Post Office defends plans to relocate into Harrogate WHSmiths with 'longer opening hours'

The Post Office has defended its plans stating that many branches already sit within WHSmiths stores, such as this one in Blackpool.
The Post Office has defended its plans stating that many branches already sit within WHSmiths stores, such as this one in Blackpool.
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Post Office bosses have defended contentious plans to relocate Harrogate's main branch, claiming that services will 'remain the same'.

The organisation announced plans to move 40 Post Offices into local WHSmiths stores across the country, last month.

Harrogate's main Post Office on Cambridge Road is one of 40 earmarked to be moved into WHSmiths stores.

Harrogate's main Post Office on Cambridge Road is one of 40 earmarked to be moved into WHSmiths stores.

Harrogate's Crown Post Office on Cambridge Road is one of the 40 affected by the decision, and the plans have been met with huge concern from Harrogate residents, the MP and other community leaders.

But now bosses of the organisation have defended the plans, explaining that a move to WHSmiths would mean extended opening hours and that services 'will remain the same'.

A spokesperson for the Post Office said: "Under the proposals, the services at the new branch would remain the same, with the exception of a cash machine.

"Services will include everyday banking for the UK’s high street banks, online shopping returns and collections and foreign exchange.

"The Post Office would be in a dedicated area with six serving positions.

"Additionally, there will be three self-service kiosks for mail transactions including home shopping returns, E Top-Ups, and a range of bill payments."

The new branch will also open on Sundays from 10.30am - 2.30pm, but will have the same opening hours as the current branch (9.30am - 5.30pm) Monday to Saturday.

But Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough said the Post Office has already confirmed that passport services will not transfer to the new branch.

In a Westminster Hall debate on the future of Post Offices, organised by Mr Jones, he said that Post Office bosses had also confirmed the worst fears over accessibility - that the new branch will sit on the first floor of WHSmiths in Harrogate.
Mr Jones also raised concerns that the Post Office consultation on the plans, which has now started, is not wide enough.

It is proposed that the new branch will open in April 2019.

The Post Office’s Network and Sales Director Roger Gale said: “The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Offices, large and small, are successfully operated on a franchise basis with retail partners.

"We believe this is the best approach to keeping Post Offices in main shopping locations and at the heart of communities where they play an important role in local economies.”

Mr Gale added: “We believe our proposal is the most effective way to secure the long term viability of Post Office services for years to come.”

The consultation will run until December 19, 2018 - you can share your views by clicking here