THE proposed closure of a Chester post office met strong resistance.
The Watergate Street post office is earmarked for closure as early as next February as part of Post Office Ltd’s plans to modernise their network.
Their proposals will mean 2,500 out of 14,300 branches nationally will be closed, including 23 Cheshire post offices. Chester’s Watergate Street branch is one of those deemed surplus to requirements.
Reasons behind the closures include falling customer numbers, changing customer habits and traditional services becoming available elsewhere.
Subpostmaster Richard Probert disputed the reasons. He said: “The customer numbers falling is simply not true. Our income has been increasing over the last three years and has grown again even more this year.
“People are generally horrified at the proposal, particularly as it is one of the busiest post offices in the North West.
“I am very disappointed, I have put a lot of energy into this post office and it will be 12 years of hard work completely lost.”
The implications of the closure will also have an adverse effect on Chester businesses who use the post office as an integral role in their finance and banking.
Neil Gorman, of Watergates Wine Bar, said: “The closure will affect all business in the area. We use it everyday for banking and the changing of money sometimes up to £20,000 a week.
“If it were to close, then we would have to stop using the post office and move to Securitas instead which would be a much safer option than walking across town with large amounts of cash.”
Cestrians are angry at the planned closure, with many pensioners forced to walk an extra half mile to the nearest alternative at St John Street.
Mr Probert claims the much-hyped “huge financial compensation” offered post offices facing closure is “seriously exaggerated.”
He said: “It is all relevant to income tax – the government simply give in one hand then take away from the other.”
Post Office Ltd is coming to the end of is six-week local public consultation process aimed at providing an opportunity for people to express their views about the proposed closure.
In Chester, thousands of signatures and hundreds of letters supporting local post offices have been created.
Mr Probert fears the campaign to keep Watergate Street branch is likely to fall on deaf ears.
A Chester resident added: “It is a crucial point used by a great number of people. Pressure on the post office is such that if numbers are cut it will surely damage the service further.”