A ROW is brewing over plans to downsize Weymouth’s central post office with a switch to a smaller site in the town centre.
It is proposed to move the main branch from its current home in a prominent and historic building in St Thomas Street a few hundred yards away to a smaller shop.
Post Office bosses say it is part of a programme to modernise branches.
The same products and services will be available in newly-refurbished premises and it will open longer on Saturdays until 5.30pm.
But there are concerns it won’t be big enough.
It will have seven serving counters as opposed to 11 at the current site which includes specialist desks. The retail area will be downgraded to a ‘confectionery store’.
A Post Office spokesman said it was ‘too early to speculate’ on whether any jobs will be affected or what will happen to the current site.
Deputy mayor and town centre councillor Ray Banham said the post office could get very busy with queues almost extending to the door at peak times and it should concentrate on upgrading facilities rather than moving.
Coun Banham said: “It’s a totally blind move by the Post Office which is clearly looking to save money.
“The current branch is barely adequate as it is. The queue is to the door sometimes, especially in the summer, so where will the queue extend to at a smaller shop?
“They would be better off spending money bringing the branch into the 21st century.”
Chairman of the Weymouth and Portland Access Group John Lambert said: “The queues can be colossal, especially now smaller branches have closed.”
Mr Lambert said if the branch was relocated he would like to see more disabled parking and other facilities provided.
The current site on the corner of St Thomas Street and Lower St Alban Street is a Grade II listed building of Edwardian Baroque style dating from 1907.
Pengillys Solicitors, which has offices above in Post Office Chambers, will not be affected.
The proposed site is 87 St Thomas Street between the Ming Wah restaurant and Mann Countrywide. It used to be the Fairprice store and has been used more recently as an estate agent’s but has stood empty for a while.
Weymouth resident and former regional manager for postal watchdog Postwatch, Gary Hepburn, said he hoped there would be no difference in customer service and the branch was accessible.
He added: “The current premises are quite dark inside.
“It’s one of the central hubs of the town and it may not be as significant these days but it is still used by lots of people.
“The question is, what will become of the building?”
President of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce Anna-Maria Geare said members would like to know where inward investment would come from to develop the prominent post office site if it were to be vacated.
She added: “We would hope that customer service issues are taken into account at the new location.”
Chance To Have Your Say On Proposals
A POST Office spokesman said: “We are currently engaged in a public consultation on the proposed relocation of Weymouth Post Office to 87 St Thomas Street.
“If the move does go ahead the new branch would provide customers with a modern open plan layout.
“The Post Office is committed to maintaining services to people in the area and to no programmes of branch closures.
“The move is part of a multi-million pound programme which will see 6,000 new or refurbished Post Office branches introduced over the next three years and aims to secure the long-term viability of branches.”
The consultation ends on October 30. Comment by emailing comments@postoffice .co.uk or writing to National Consultation Team, Post Office Limited, PO Box 1138, St Albans, AL1 9UN.