Burnley’s main Post Office is to close – despite huge public opposition.
The Post Office announced that the crown branch in Hargreaves Street will be run from the WH Smith store in Burnley’s Charter Walk centre.
The decision was slammed by Burnley Council leader Julie Cooper who led a campaign to keep the service in Hargreaves Street.
She said: “This is a huge disappointment. I’d hoped the Post Office would listen to our concerns.
“Sadly, it has chosen to ignore the people of Burnley, including the many thousands of people who signed a petition to keep the Post Office public and in Hargreaves Street.
“There is no doubt the services offered in WH Smith will be of a lesser quality than we have currently.
“Research from mystery shoppers has shown that customers wait up to five times longer and services are more expensive in franchised outlets.”
Coun. Cooper also slammed Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle who she claimed showed no support in the fight to save the branch.
In February, Mr Birtwistle told the Express that he was confident there would be no private companies in Burnley willing to take on the service.
Speaking on the news that the Post Office will now move to WH Smith he said: “I didn’t think it would move, but it soon became obvious that the building in Hargreaves Street was too big and was costing the Post Office too much money.
“Providing that the staff are retained on their same salaries I have no problem with this. However, I have asked the Post Office to provide me with a plan for the shop.”
The Post Office said the move was part of a modernisation programme across the network designed to ensure branches are sustainable, profitable and no longer reliant on Government funding.
It also confirmed there would be no compulsory redundancies and that all staff have the legal right to transfer to the potential new operator under TUPE legislation.
The new Post Office is expected to have five serving positions – a mixture of two screened and three open-plan counters with the same services.
Roger Gale, Crown Network General Manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a branch in Burnley and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers.
“We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate it, so if the move goes ahead it will be run by WHSmith High Street Ltd rather than by us directly.”
A public consultation will close on February 3rd with the move proposed for March or April.