Neighbours rally to save threatened post office
NEIGHBOURS are rallying around to support a couple who have run a closure-threatened post office and convenience store for more than 25 years. Dave Bhandari and his wife Mina have operated the Prospect Road post office in St Albans for more than a quarte
NEIGHBOURS are rallying around to support a couple who have run a closure-threatened post office and convenience store for more than 25 years.
Dave Bhandari and his wife Mina have operated the Prospect Road post office in St Albans for more than a quarter of a century but now face losing their livelihood if proposed post office closures ago ahead.
Father-of-three Dave said: "We love it here. We live next door and are part of the community we serve.
"We won't be able to keep the shop going on its own without the post office which will be a shame. All the young mums and elderly people who meet here will find it hard to get to Vesta Avenue which is the nearest post office - and we will have lost our livelihood."
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Former MP Kerry Pollard who lives nearby has been collecting signatures from his neighbours in a bid to have the Prospect Road post office removed from the closure programme.
He said: "Dave has been there for years and is very popular."
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The Prospect Road post office is one of five in St Albans which face closure. The others are Waverley Road, Bernard's Heath, Park Street and Station Road in Smallford.
St Albans MP Anne Main is backing the campaign spearheaded by deputy district council leader, Cllr Chris Brazier, to prevent their closure.
Mrs Main said it was obvious that the main criterion for closure was financial and had not taken into account the difficulties closures would create for elderly and disabled residents.
But she stressed the need to present solid business reasons and strong social development arguments for keeping the offices open, adding: "Simply gathering signatures on petitions will not be enough.
"Also, in the consultation document I was able to spot some flaws in their research and to draw attention to the fact that they had not considered the expansion of St Albans City Hospital and relocation of additional services to the site which, given the Waverley Road post office's proximity to pharmacy and shops, may lead to increased future usage."
She added that similarly, the Smallford proposal suggested an alternative that would entail a long and inconvenient bus journey as bus services there were infrequent with poor disability access.
Cllr Brazier has called a public meeting in St Albans District Council chamber next Thursday for everyone concerned by the proposed closures.
He said: "The Mayor will chair the cross-party meeting for all county and ward councillors, the post office owners and the public."
Cllr Brazier was also due to ask last night's full meeting of the district council to persuade the Cabinet to draw up a response to the post office consultation.
The Post Office has said closing the threatened 2,500 branches nationwide would save £45m.
It has been estimated there are four million fewer customer visits every week to post offices compared to two years ago, largely due to the way benefits are now sent directly to people's bank accounts.