AS A HARBOUR Street shop owner and a member of the working group, which has been campaigning for some considerable time to save Whitstable’s Crown post office (CPO), I am concerned by the number of local people who have recently come to me, alarmed that our post office service might be under threat of closure in early May. It would appear that a general misapprehension seems to have followed statements made by Green Party parliamentary candidate, Stuart Jeffery, and perpetuated in his election circulars, where he writes, “I have spoken out against the Whitstable post office closure. News arrived last week that it is to close in early May unless a new site can be found. This would be an absolute tragedy. Whitstable is under great threat of losing both its post office…” To clarify, redevelopment of the Gladstone Road post office site is due to begin from May 7, 2015, but this work was always expected and there have always been provisions within the planning permission for this development, which allow for a temporary post office (TPO) in the Gladstone Road car park.
When Post Office Ltd contacted our working group earlier this month, seeking suggestions from us for a temporary site, and stating “If we are unable to find a location to house a temporary post office, there is a risk that we will not be able to maintain access for post office services in Whitstable town centre after May 7, 2015”, we immediately alerted the company to these planning provisions. Permission for the TPO was granted on August 16, 2010, and is still valid. In fact, having recently consulted with Canterbury City Council planning department, I have been assured that planning permission, once granted, cannot be withdrawn. When the redevelopment is completed there will be adequate space to house a continued CPO service in the retail units. Post Office Ltd may wish to see our CPO service replaced with a franchised service, but this has been their ambition for some time and they have been unable to achieve it.
Alongside members of the Save Whitstable CPO campaign, our local working group has fought to defend our historic CPO service for residents, business people and visitors alike and we will continue to do so. To that end, we remain in current contact with Post Office Ltd, the CWU and Canterbury City Council. Mr Jeffery’s statements are proving to be unnecessarily alarmist for local people, and he should be aware that in order for Post Office Ltd to close the Gladstone Road Crown Post Office, the company would need to give a 13-week consultation period. This has not taken place. Should anyone wish to know more, search for “Whitstable Crown Post Office” on Facebook.
Herne Bay Times, April 8th 2015