Southdown post office to re-open
PUBLISHED: 11:45 14 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:09 16 June 2010
A DECISION by the Post Office to restore a counter service in Southdown has been hailed as "a victory for public opinion" by the town's MP.
A DECISION by the Post Office to restore a counter service in Southdown has been hailed as “a victory for public opinion” by the town’s MP.
The Post Office has confirmed that after a period of public consultation, there was overwhelming support for a branch to open at the Co-op store in Southdown Road, Harpenden, just 50 yards from Balfour News and convenience store which had incorporated a post office and closed at short notice in December 2008 because of what was described as a poor trading performance.
Local residents and councillors spearheaded the campaign to retain facilities in Southdown after the closure and they were backed in their endeavours by Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley who said this week: “It was a terrible blow to the local community when the sub post office in Balfour News was closed at very short notice.
“What made matters worse was that it was the second Harpenden post office to close in a couple of months. The first was at Station Road North.”
The opening date for the new service is still being finalised and will be confirmed shortly.
Local residents vigorously campaigned to keep Balfour open or relocate its services elsewhere in Southdown. A petition drawn up by Steve Gledhill and Robert Hill collected more than 1,000 signatures which was presented to the then Town Mayor, Cllr Pat Kent. She put pressure on the Post Office to look at the decision again with a view to restoring facilities.
To add to the resulting problems, shopkeepers in Southdown experienced a sharp drop in footfall in the area when the post office shut. Paul Russell, who owns Southdown Hardware, said: “When the post office was open people would walk round here and it attracted passing trade.
“It was also a community meeting place. Elderly folk would meet up there and have a chat. It was a focal point for the community.”
The new post office will have level entry for wheelchair users, a counter with low level facilities and a hearing loop. Also, the public toilets attached to the Co-op – the former Somerfield store – are being retained.