Investigation reveals 17 North Post Offices have been ‘closed temporarily’ – for more than a year

The Post Office today stands accused of cutting down its network “by stealth” as an investigation reveals 17 North East branches have been “temporarily closed” for more than a year.

A Freedom Of Information probe has uncovered huge gaps in the region’s Post Office service, with seven out of a total of 20 branches marked as ‘closed temporarily’, having actually been shut for more than five years.

The Communication Workers’ Union has branded the situation “ridiculous” and claimed Post Office chiefs are letting down communities in the region who rely on their local branch.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said:

“To have 17 post office branches closed for over a year is ridiculous. Every day those post offices are closed, local communities are going without essential services.

“Temporarily closing post offices is surely closure by stealth. The Post Office is being opportunistic and this is impacting detrimentally on customers and communities.

“Communities are extremely vocal about their support for their local post office but they’re being fobbed off.

“People want a professional and reliable service and the sooner the Post Office realises this and stops selling them off or surreptitiously closing them down, the better.”

Post Offices in Stamfordham and Matfen, in rural Northumberland, Orchard in Stockton’s Eaglescliffe, Roseberry Square in Redcar, and Aycliffe, Kelloe and Eldon Lane, in County Durham, have been marked as closed temporarily for the last five years.

Those closed for between three and four years include Stainton, in Middlesbrough, Newfield and East Rainton, both in County Durham, Grange Estate, in Stockton and Victoria Street, in South Bank, near Middlesbrough.

Branches in Cleadon Park, South Shields, Burnopfield, in County Durham, and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Stonehaugh, in Northumberland, were added to the ‘temporary closure’ list over a year ago.

On top of the 17 branches closed for more than a year, it can also be revealed that a further three branches have shut down within the last three months.

The Post Office denied claims it was mounting a closure programme by the back door and said its staff were committed to seeing branches reopen.

A spokesman said the Post Office network in the North East is “stable” and it was had no plans to permanently close branches.

Last month, the Forest-in-Teesdale branch reopened after it had been closed for more than five years.

A Post Office spokesperson said:

“There is no closure programme and the size of the Post Office network in the North East remains broadly stable as for example there were 489 branches open and trading in March 2014 compared with 491 in March 2011.

“There is a natural churn in the network and there can be occasions when Post Office branches do temporarily close for reasons beyond our control, and in these cases a branch will only remain vacant for a period where no suitable premises or an applicant for the role of postmaster has been identified, and we always work hard to restore the service.

“If a Post Office is temporarily closed it is not included in the numbers of open and trading branches.

“Post Office Ltd is engaged in the largest investment and modernisation programme in its history, which marks a commitment to no more branch closure programmes.

“Examples of cases where we have successfully restored post office services in the North East after periods of temporary closure include Forest-in-Teesdale, Normanby, Gunnerton, Blackhall Mill, Bede Trading Estate and High Grange.”

Closed for 0-3 months

Crookham, TD12 4SY

High Street, NE8 1EQ

Pittington, DH6 1AT

 

Closed for over a year

Burnopfield, NE16 6LX

Cleadon Park, NE34 8PL

Stonehaugh, NE48 3DY

West End Newbiggin, NE64 6UY

Closed for over two years

Shotley Bridge, DH8 0HQ

 

Closed for over 3 Years

East Rainton, DH5 9QT

Grange Estate, TS18 4LT

Victoria Street, TS6 6HT

 

Closed for over four Years

Stainton, TS8 9AG

Newfield, DH2 2SL

Closed for over five Years

Aycliffe, DL5 6JT

Eldon Lane, DL14 8TD

Kelloe, DH6 4PD

Matfen, NE20 0RP

Orchard, TS16 0EH

Roseberry Square, TS10 4EL

Stamfordham, NE18 0LA

 

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 Jan 2015

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