A convenient change for Chippenham
Chippenham's MP has welcomed the town’s Post Office move as an alternative to its closure.
Duncan Hames gave his local Post Office on Market Place its official opening this week.
After cutting the ribbon at its new home in the One Stop shop, he spent some time doing his Co-op banking.
The movemeans people can now cash pensions and benefits 15 hours a day, as one counter offers Post Office services between 7am and 10pm. Other services, such as passport check and send, will be restricted to the four counters at the back of the store with normal office opening hours of 9am-5.30pm.
“They (the extended hours) will be especially welcomed by those who need to use the Post Office outside of the normal working day,” Mr Hames said.
The Post Office moved from 41-43 to 28-29 Market Place when the building it rented for more than 50 years was sold. It now has a permanent contract at the One Stop shop.
Mr Hames said: “I hope an investment in the Post Office network such as this will help put the Post Office on a firmer footing and help leave the era of Post Office closures.”
The South West has lost 580 Post Offices in the past 12 years. About 6,000 have closed in the UK overall.
One Stop shift manager Paul Page said he felt proud to be part of the Chippenham relocation. “I feel like we’ve helped to save the Post Office and keep people’s jobs,” he said. “If it wasn’t here I don’t think there would have been one this side of town.”
Since the move last month – the busiest time of year – all members of staff from the former office are doing the same jobs, 110 metres down the road.
They now work for One Stop and have swapped their distinctive red and white blouses for the blue and black convenience shop T-shirts.
Some customers said they were disappointed by the move. Lara Tyas, 37, off Sheldon Road, said: “I’m disappointed with this trend of shoving them at the back of convenience stores. I like having a nice large designated Post Office.”
Natasha Tidmarsh, 37, of Pewsham, said: “When I heard it was moving I was a bit worried about where people would queue because it did get quite busy.” But she added: “It seems fine at the moment.”
The store has received a mixed reaction from customers, according to Mike Wilson, Post Office area sales manager. He expected queues would reduce as people grew accustomed to the extended opening hours. “In a similar situation near Bristol, after just a couple of months there were no queues at all,” he said.
The building at 41-43 Market Place, which had housed the Post Office since it was built in 1959, is now empty.