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Chesterfield Crown Post Office: Update

As readers of this website will know, Toby Perkins MP has had long standing concerns about plans to move Chesterfield Crown Post Office from it’s historic home to  a location inside WH Smiths (read more here) as well as the overall privatisation of the Royal Mail (read more here).  In particular, Toby has encouraged local constituents to participate in the ongoing consultation around this move (read more here).

Last Wednesday (11 December 2013) the Post Office hosted a consultation drop-in at the Chesterfield Hotel to allow local people to voice their views.  Unfortunately Toby was unable to attend the drop-in in person as there was an important vote in Parliament that night, however his office manager did attend and raised many issues of concern.  These are briefly summarised below and this will be helpful for those who were also unable to attend.

Questions that constituents got in touch with me to ask to raise at the meeting:

Chesterfield Crown Post Office is earmarked for relocation

Chesterfield Crown Post Office is earmarked for relocation

Will local people with visual impairments be able to access the new facilities?
All the designs are DDA compliant.  Any changes will also be DDA ratified.

WH Smiths is already very busy, how will the new Post Office effect this?
The information given out on the night did not show any new layout for the WH Smith site, and there was a presumption that it would stay the same.  A new pathway would be clearly marked to create a natural flow through to the post office.  Some of the existing stands will be removed to make room for this.

What would be the new queuing system?
The current facility is designed to allow for long queues but the build up is in the wrong direction, this will be changed.  The meeting was told that all WH Smiths stores which already include a post office have a sub 4 min waiting time and this would be in place for Chesterfield to.

What about lack of seating in Smiths – how will this impact on older people?
At the meeting it was admitted that there is no room for significant seating.  Two chairs will be available but these aren’t central to the design and were probably an afterthought.  I am very concerned about this development.

Is there a legal requirement to provide a crown post office in a town as large as Chesterfield? What happens if Smiths shuts down?
There is a legal duty to provide post offices where the population reaches a certain point, so there will always have to be a post office in town.  There were assurances at the meeting if WH Smiths collapses or decides to move out of their current premises another venue must be found, and this has happened in other towns where the post office was in a shop like Smiths.

Further questions my office sought answers to:

The current site is used by a number of older people as their local POs were closed down.  Older people will find it harder to walk into a bustling store and the DDA does not recognise age as a disability.  How will the plans take account of this?
The Post Office agreed to take all points back and look again at the plan for WH Smith’s layout.  However, they would give no concession on queuing system which may be difficult for older people to navigate.

What account has been taken for the drop in service points from 12 to 6 (which conveniently fits the available space in store)?
The meeting was assured that the number was decided upon first and then the space found second and the speakers quoted research to demonstrate that waiting times no worse than now.  I will closely monitor this situation.

There appears to be no ‘back room’ space so how is the confidentially/security of post assured?
The Post Office gave assurances that this be guaranteed in the plans.

After the change, staff would be employed by WH Smith not the Post Office.  There are a number of staff related issues connected with this:

  1. Quality and understanding of staff
  2. Transfer arrangements
  3. Staff numbers

The meeting was given some assurances over staff transfer.  The new facilities will have the same management structure, and staff will be given the option of transferring to other branches if they prefer to remain a Post Office employee.  Initially all WH Smith staff working at franchised site will be Tupe’d over from the Post Office.

When staff were TUPE’d over from Royal Mail to CSC  there were considerable problems with their pension as it was viewed as a second pension.  Will this happen again?
The Post Office representatives could not answer this question on the day but have promised to come back with more information.

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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