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Dartford Post Office will move to nearby WHSmith in High Street

By Jenna Dobbs

Controversial plans to relocate a town's post office will go ahead, it has been confirmed.

The store in Hythe Street, Dartford, will move to the WHSmith in High Street, following a public consultation.

It comes after MP Gareth Johnson raised concerns about the plans, and almost 1,000 people signed a petition in a bid to save it.

Dartford Post Office in Hythe Street. Picture: Google
Dartford Post Office in Hythe Street. Picture: Google

The new branch will open on Thursday, June 27. It offers longer opening hours, but a reduction in size and services.

It has been described as "a sad day for our town" by Cllr Kelly Grehan (Lab), who represents Stone House ward.

She said: "This is devastating news for our community and will inevitably lead to a further deterioration of the town.

"The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will continue the fight and are going to the prime minister.

"Post office closures are also being discussed at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee this morning."

Cllr Kelly Grehan, of Stone House ward
Cllr Kelly Grehan, of Stone House ward

Commenters on Facebook echoed Cllr Grehan's views, with one describing it as "another nail in the coffin for Dartford".

Another raised concerns about access to the new store, adding "you can't park outside if you're disabled, it's not step free access and the aisles are tiny and poorly laid out".

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said: "I think it's a very disappointing decision and a short-sighted one.

"Everyone accepts that post office business is changing with the growth of digital communications, but it seems to me the Post Office should be adapting itself to meet new demands and looking ahead at the way towns like Dartford are growing.

"The big concern is that a counter in WHSmith will simply not be big enough to meet the needs of local people."

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: "I am sad to see the loss of Dartford Post Office despite local objections.

"While this will facilitate access to postal services on a Sunday and for longer hours, I do remain concerned that the WHSmith is not big enough to cope with the demand."

According to the plans, customers will not be able to renew their driving license or apply for a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence at the new branch.

It will not have a cash machine, but benefits from increased opening hours between 10am and 2pm on Sundays.

Other services, including banking, foreign exchange and online shopping collections and returns, will remain the same.

A deal between Post Office and WHSmith means the pair want to relocate up to 40 offices in 2019, as well as 33 others being taken over by the retailer.

Commenters raised concerns about the lack of disabled parking outside the new store in High Street, Dartford. Picture: Google
Commenters raised concerns about the lack of disabled parking outside the new store in High Street, Dartford. Picture: Google

Post Office's network and sales director, Rodger Gale, said the change will help to ensure the branch is commercially viable and protect postal services.

He said: "Post Office is committed to keeping our services at the heart of communities which we know is hugely important to people.

"This change means we can continue to do that, into the future. We are making sure we take the right action to sustain services for years to come."

The current Dartford Post Office will close at 5.30pm on Wednesday June, 26.

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford

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