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Saturday, August 06, 2016

PETERBOROUGH POST OFFICE DECAMPS TO GROTTY END OF PEDESTRIAN ZONE BRIDGE STREET INSIDE WH SMITHS!


The abandoned Post Office Underground Railway.....


Its a pretty poor deal when a City the size of Peterborough cannot even support its own stand alone Post Office! its now to be franchised off and stuffed at the back of the books and mags jumble sale once known as WHSMITH, located at the grotty end of Bridge Street. 

We've included the long winded Post Office justification for the move. Tellingly it needs several pages of management speak and potted jargon, but what it all boils down to is money. Customers will be greatly disadvantaged and amusingly for some products,  such as Biometric Services, customers are advised that Stamford Post Office is only 14 miles away!

They'll house the Post Office 'shop within a shop' where the coffee franchise briefly was - that didn't last long - right at the back of the store. You'll know how narrow and highly stacked, the WHSMITH aisles are these days..... Or if you just want to cash your DWP giro pop in through the back door, possibly parking your motor on the yellow lines in Wentworth Street, as there is no parking anywhere near.

We truly pity the dwindling number of Post Office customers who have a few packages to post. If you are in any way mobility impared, you'll enjoy the possibly unintentional hubris from  the box-ticking Post Office boss Mr Gale as how you can be accommodated.  


http://darrenfower.mycouncillor.org.uk/read-the-official-letter-re-peterborough-post-office-move-to-whsmith  
   
Dear Customer, 
 
Peterborough City Crown Post Office® branch 28-30 Cowgate, Peterborough, PE1 1NA 


Decision - move to new premises & branch modernisation 


I’m writing to confirm that following a period of local public consultation and review we have made the decision to proceed with the proposal to move the above Post Office into the WHSmith store at 32-36 Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1DP, where it will be known as Peterborough Post Office. 


The branch will be operated by WHSmith High Street Ltd under a franchise agreement.  

This change is being made as part of the continuing modernisation of our network, to achieve commercial sustainability and will help us to provide services that will meet customer needs and safeguard future service provision in Peterborough, now and for the long-term.  


Public consultation feedback: During the public consultation period we received 15 individual representations from customers and local representatives.  We also held a customer forum to talk to customers about our plans and answer questions. 


I would like to thank everyone who took the time to let us have their comments and provide information.  All the feedback we received helped us to better understand the views of customers and their representatives and this was taken into account along with all other relevant factors, when making our decision. 

 
The main areas of feedback were around the distance to the proposed new location from the existing branch, particularly that parking would be more difficult and that WHSmith is further away from the bus and rail stations. 


Concern was expressed about whether the WHSmith store has the size and capacity to cope with additional customers, as well as ease of access in the proposed new premises.  

Concerns were also raised that the new branch would not be offering the Biometric Enrolment service for the Home Office. 
 
Getting to the new location: With any relocation it is inevitable that whilst some customers will have an easier journey to the new location, regrettably others will have further to travel. 


We carefully considered factors such as the local terrain, parking or transport links when developing our proposal. 

We also took account of whether there were any particular local road traffic issues that may negatively impact accessibility.  

When considering the consultation feedback, we further reviewed access to the proposed new premises, particularly parking and disabled parking arrangements.   
 
The walking route between the current branch and WHSmith is level and largely pedestrianised. 


We recognise that as WHSmith is located within the main pedestrian shopping area, there is no parking directly outside the main entrance. 

There are car parks across the city, with Wentworth Street pay and display car park approximately 115 metres from WHSmith. 

There are also designated roadside disabled parking spaces located along Wentworth Street, on the opposite side of the road to the car park approximately 120 metres away; these are a little closer than originally stated in our proposal and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused. 

Car Haven car park is approximately 320 metres away and this too has designated disabled bays. 
 
We recognise that parking close by is important for many people, including disabled people or those with limited mobility.  We’ll be contacting the Council to see if any specific consideration can be given to disabled parking provision or providing a safe drop off point nearby to the new branch.  


Customers may be interested to know that Peterborough Shopmobility operates from Level 11 of the Queensgate car park and situated between the Royce and Clare car parks. 


The Queensgate Shopmobility Office can be reached via the lifts and parking areas.  Shopmobilty offers the loan of scooters, electric and manual wheelchairs and walking aids to people who have mobility difficulties to help make the City Centre more accessible.  Further information on the scheme is available at localgiving.org/peterboroughshopmobility  

We acknowledge that WHSmith is located further away from the bus and rail stations and that the current and proposed locations are not served by the same transport links. 


However, there are multiple bus stops across the city, serving routes to and from the surrounding areas, with the nearest bus stops to WHSmith being on Rivergate, approximately 160 metres away. 

Peterborough City Council also provide a concessionary fare scheme, which provides free bus travel for eligible older people and people with certain disabilities. 

Details of the scheme and how to get a pass is available at: https://ask.peterborough.gov.uk/help/council/traffic/concessionary-bus-pass/ 

In conclusion, we remain satisfied that customers in Peterborough will continue to have good access to Post Office services. 


What the new branch will look like: We know that the Post Office plays an important part in the lives of customers, including our elderly and disabled customers.  We have a long and successful relationship with WHSmith and we’ll be working together to provide a new, modern Post Office with sufficient room for Post Office and shop customers. 

  
Externally the store front will include Post Office signage and an opening hour’s board. There will be directional signage taking customers from the entrance door, through to the new Post Office area which will be located at the rear left of the store. 

 
Customer access both into and within the store will meet Post Office Ltd.’s own accessibility standards and all applicable legislation. 


There is level access into the premises, with an automatic entrance door.  To make sure there is sufficient space for Post Office customers, including wheelchair users, to move around the store and reach the Post Office area without hindrance, the entrance area and shopping aisles will be kept free of obstructions to provide a clear route to the Post Office area.  Shopping aisles will also be widened where necessary.    
 
The Post Office counter will be built to Post Office specifications and will include lighting to industry standards, low level counters, PIN pads and hearing loops. 


There will be space for people to wait for service and customer seating will also be provided. The branch will have full mail posting facilities.  

The number of serving positions is based on current and future predicted business levels and after further review, we remain confident this will meet customer demand.


The new branch will have four serving positions, made up of one traditional style, floor to ceiling screened serving position and three open plan positions. 

There will also be two self-service kiosks where customers can buy postage, including Parcelforce services and most pre-paid returns, send most items of mail, pay for bills and E-top ups, without having to join the main queue. 

Following the move, the Post Office will also be open for longer including Saturday afternoons and Sunday, providing customers with more flexibility around their visits.

  
I am satisfied that the above measures will ensure that customer needs will be adequately met. 


Alongside this, we will continue to monitor customer usage at the branch following the move and will work with WHSmith to make sure service standards are maintained. 
  
Access to Post Office services and products: In our proposal letter, we advised you that the same wide range of services would be available with the exception of the Biometric Enrolment services. 


In light of feedback received, we have reviewed our proposal for the provision of this service and I am pleased to let you know that this service will be retained in Peterborough. 


We anticipate that there may be a short interruption to the availability of this service due to the complexities of establishing it in a new location. 

In the meantime, the new branch will initially continue to offer the DVLA Photocard Driving Licence renewal and Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence application service, whilst the nearest alternative branch offering the Biometric Enrolment Service for the Home Office, is Stamford Post Office, All Saints Place, Stamford, PE9 2EY, approx.14 miles away. 

Staff, who will work exclusively in the Post Office, will be trained to provide information on financial products, including savings and insurances.  Product information literature will also be available for customers to take away with them.  Our website and specialist customer helplines also provide information on what’s available and how to make a purchase.  


Further details of the new branch, including opening hours, are provided in the enclosed information sheet.   


Customer service training and existing Crown staff: WHSmith already successfully operate over 100 Post Office branches and have satisfied us that they are equally as committed to delivering excellent customer service as we are. 


Any person employed to work in Peterborough Post Office will be trained to the highest Post Office standards.  Just as with branches we run ourselves, the branch will receive on-going training on products and services, as well as general operational and service related matters. 

Post Office Area Managers will work with the WHSmith team to provide support, in the same way they already do in existing Post Office branches operated by us or other retail partners.  

In respect of our people working at the existing branch, we have a strong track record of supporting our people through change.  We will do all that we can to find a solution that works for each individual within the options available.  
 
Conclusion: After careful consideration of the feedback received, I am confident that the new branch will be suitably located and that it will continue to meet customer needs and deliver an excellent service, whilst helping to provide future sustainability for the branch and maintaining a Post Office presence in Peterborough. 


The current branch will close at 17:30 on Wednesday 21 September 2016 with the new branch opening at 09:00 on Thursday 22 September 2016. 
  
You can also find a copy of this letter on our website at postofficeviews.co.uk.  When entering the website you will be asked to enter the code for this branch: 017230. 



Yours faithfully   


Roger Gale General Manager – Crown and WHSmith network  





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