Friday, 26 March 2010

Launceston Post Office - just when things looked to be going well

The saga of Launceston Post Office has taken a worrying turn.

Tim Nickolls of the Post Office has been in touch to say:

"We have this week had discussions with all of the various people who had expressed interest in applying for the subpostmastership of Launceston and there appear to be at least 2 parties at the current time who seem committed to move forward with a formal application.

On the negative side, as you will know Interim Enterprises the company that currently operates the Post Office branch, have been given notice by the landlord to vacate by the end of May. Although I had been given an assurance by Kivells that the landlord was very happy to extend Interim's temporary occupancy by a further 3 months to allow (hopefully) for a town centre solution to be established, Interim have advised me that they have still not heard anything from the landlord or Kivells in relation to this - despite several prompts for me. The head of Interim has today informed me that if this has not been satisfactorily resolved by close of play on Monday, they will be issuing redundancy notices to their staff and planning for vacating in May as originally instructed by the landlord. Naturally I do not want this to happen, as it will almost certainly lead to a period of closure with no replacement service in place. However, I can understand their position and their obligations to their staff. In the eventuality that this issue is not resolved I will let you know."

Whilst the news that at least two serious bidders are ready to submit applications is very welcome, the other part of the message is very concerning. If a deal to ensure that the current company can carry on until a new postmaster is ready to take over cannot be agreed by the end of Monday then the Post Office will close at the end of May.

Like Tim Nickolls, I understand why Interim have had to take the action they have. Having heard how reasonable the landlord has been over other matters, I believe that this is not a crisis yet. But clearly things need to move very swiftly over the weekend or the town will be without a Post Office for some months in the summer.

If this were to happen then businesses and local residents would suffer immensely. Those hardest hit would be people without cars who rely on being able to get their pensions or other benefits from the Post Office.

Should the worst come to the worst, I have asked the Post Office to site a mobile post office van in the town centre to cover the period until a new sub-postmaster can start work. But that should be thought of only as a worst case scenario.

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