Lifeline promised for Harpenden Post Office

PUBLISHED: 11:46 30 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

SOUTHDOWN may get its post office back, according to Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley. After approaching the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Mr Lilley received a letter saying Lord Mandelson had been informed by Post Offices Limited that they hope

SOUTHDOWN may get its post office back, according to Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley.

After approaching the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Mr Lilley received a letter saying Lord Mandelson had been informed by Post Offices Limited that they hoped to be able to restore the service as soon as possible.

Mr Lilley said: "I don't know how long "as soon as possible" might be but it is hopeful to know that they have not closed the door on this valuable service."

Shopkeepers in South-down experienced a sharp drop in footfall in the area when the post office shut in December last year.

The Co-Op, which leased the store, claimed the convenience store had to shut because of a "poor trading performance".

But a meeting of Harpenden Town Council revealed shopkeepers were concerned at the drop in footfall.

Former town mayor, Cllr Pat Kent, also wrote to the Post Office insisting that Harpenden needed another post office to serve the population and asking what steps have been taken to address this.

Paul Russell, who owns Southdown Hardware, said: "When the post office was open people would walk round here and it attracted passing trade. Now people just go in Somerfield's and drive away again.

"The post office was also a community meeting place. Elderly folk would meet up there and have a chat. It was a focal point for the community."

Butcher Peter Russell said he estimated trade had dropped by around 20 per cent due to the closure.

Residents living near Southdown Road say the only post office for miles around is now the main one in Station Road, which often has people queuing down the road and is currently undergoing a refurbishment to make it more user-friendly.

Mr Lilley said he has been told that two additional staff have been recruited there and that overall queuing times had been reduced: "I hope this improvement is maintained and am confident that Harpenden residents will let me know if there is any further deterioration in the level of service they are offered by the Post Office.

"In the meantime I look forward to hearing that the Post Office is making progress in its efforts to restore a full counter service in Southdown.

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