Residents have reacted with shock after the Harrogate Advertiser received confirmation from the Post Office yesterday, that Harrogate's main, town centre branch is among those earmarked for closure as part of a new agreement to re-open services in local WHSmiths stores.Local MP Andrew Jones has also expressed grave misgivings following the news and has promised to raise his concerns directly with the Minister responsible for postal services, Kelly Tolhurst MP.
Mr Jones, said: “This does not feel like a forward step to me. It feels like our post office is to be downgraded from a Crown Post Office to something very different and potentially much smaller.
"Already certain passport services look likely to be discontinued. What else might be unavailable? We just don’t know but a downgraded, smaller post office isn’t what I want to see for Harrogate.
“Like many others, I live near the town centre and my constituency office is on East Parade. So I use the Post Office as a resident and to post letters to hundreds of constituents every single week. I know a great many businesses and individuals who will be affected by any reduction in post office services in the town.”
The new arrangement with WHSmith was announced last week and will effect 40 Post Offices across the UK including the branch on Cambridge Road, Harrogate.
The Post Office claims that the same products and services will be available in the franchised outlet, but Mr Jones said he is doubtful how the same level and standard of service can be maintained.
Mr Jones added: “I know many people will be concerned that WHSmith does not have the space to offer the same standard of service as the current Post Office offers. It is concerning that there is less parking outside and nearby to WHSmith than is available on Cambridge Road.”
Mr Jones is now working with other North Yorkshire MPs to to arrange a Westminster debate about the importance of Post Offices and what the government can do to support them.
The MP has also launched his own consultation on the proposals in Harrogate on his website with a special ‘Post Office’ heading on the navigation bar.
You can also email Andrew directly at [email protected] or write to him at 57 East Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5LQ.
Andrew continued: “The Post Office have told me that any proposed changes would be subject to a public consultation with public meetings. Once we have dates for these I will ensure that the public are kept informed. In the mean time it would be useful to know people’s initial thoughts on the proposal at this early stage.”