Published: 12:00, 30 September 2014
Whitstable's post office is moving from Gladstone Road to Budgens in the High Street.
Post Office Ltd bosses made the announcement the morning after a public meeting about the future of the Gladstone Road site which they refused to attend.
They claim the new arrangements will see the post office open for an extra 38 and a half hours per week and claim it will be a modern open-plan branch which is easily accessible with automatic doors and low-level counters.
They say the new location is only 210 metres away from Gladstone Road.
Bosses will be inviting customers and interested parties to give their comments on the move in a six-week public consultation that starts tomorrow (October 1). There will be no compulsory redundancies.
Roger Gale, Crown network general manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch in Whitstable and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers.
"We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so if the move goes ahead it will be run by Budgens, rather than by us directly.”
The new Whitstable Post Office would operate longer opening hours over seven days – from 7am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays. It will have four counter positions.
According to the Post Office, research shows customer satisfaction levels are just as high for customers visiting franchise branches as for those who access Post Office services via the existing Crown network.
The relocation will take place in January or February next year.
At a meeting held last night, business leaders say they fear the relocation may have paved the way for a new supermarket in Gladstone Road.
Suggestions to combat the move included sending a delegation of politicians and residents to meet the Post Office in London and even a Budgens boycott.
They say although they recognise why Mr Amin wants to host the service Budgens may end up "losers" if they are faced with more competition from another store.
In a joint statement, Julie Wassmer and Brian Hitcham, from the Whitstable Chamber of Commerce, said: "The community is concerned that while depriving Whitstable of its Crown Post Office, Budgens is gambling with our Post Office service and if they fail to succeed, both Budgens and the town would be the long term losers."
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