Shock as second post office is to close in town

PUBLISHED: 18:44 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

The Southdown post office branch is to close at the end of December

The Southdown post office branch is to close at the end of December

ONE of the few remaining post offices in Harpenden will close by the end of the year. Southdown Road Post Office, which shares its premises with Balfour Newsagents, is set to shut on December 29 following a decision made by the Co-operative which owns t

ONE of the few remaining post offices in Harpenden will close by the end of the year.

Southdown Road Post Office, which shares its premises with Balfour Newsagents, is set to shut on December 29 following a decision made by the Co-operative which owns the convenience store.

The Southdown Road branch is the second Harpenden post office to close in the last couple of months - the first was the Station Road North branch which was affected by the recent spate of closures by the Post Office despite strong local opposition.

By the New Year, only the main post office in Station Road in the town centre and a small sub-post office in Kinsbourne Green will be open.

Manager of the Southdown Road post office Jim O'Toole said he wasn't surprised by the news and added "They've been trying to get rid of the store and post office ever since I took over three years ago. I really feel for the customers who depend on this post office so much and if I had the financial backing, I'd try to take on the ownership myself."

He said that Christmas post would not be affected by the closure.

Paul Russell, who owns the nearby hardware shop, said that Harpenden residents had reacted strongly to the news: "This has all happened so quickly and it's causing a tremendous problem because so many people use the post office there. We are banging our heads against a brick wall but what can we do?"

Susan Pomeroy, a pensioner who lives in South Harpenden, added: "The post office is always busy so a lot of people are going to be inconvenienced by its closure. Elderly residents nearby who can't drive will have to walk for an extra 25 minutes or so to get to the main post office. I'll have to drive an extra two miles at least."

Both Balfour News and the post office branch were informed of the closure last Tuesday and 10 employees are set to lose their jobs.

Oli de Botton, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Harpenden, said that he intended to fight the closure: "I'm definitely keen to have a petition and I urge everyone who is concerned about this issue to complain directly to Co-op HQ in Manchester and the Post Office direct."

LibDem Parliamentary candidate Nigel Quinton added: "This is potentially a body blow to Harpenden residents who have already lost one much-loved post office branch."

A Co-op spokesperson said that the company could no longer afford to keep the store and post office running: "The closure decision was taken with the greatest reluctance and much regret and it was due to the store's poor trading performance. Every effort will be made to redeploy the staff to other stores in the area."

A spokesperson from the Royal Mail added: "We are committed to the provision of postal services in the area and we will be looking to re-open as soon as possible. All locations in the area are being considered."

Blob* Customers of the sub-post office in Prospect Road, St Albans, which was one of six local branches selected for closure by the Post Office earlier this year, came together last Friday to present post master David Bandari with a token of their appreciation. He had been there for 25 years.

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