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posted 29 Jun 2012, 08:10 by Westover Labour
At last night's meeting of Bridgwater Town Council it was announced that the long awaited relocation of the temporary Bridgwater Post Office had been confirmed and that the new location would be within Sainsbury's supermarket on the Clink in Eastover.

Town Clerk Alan Hurford broke the news to councillors , who had been expecting a Town Centre location and who reacted angrily to the decision. "I have been informed that an offer of appointment has been accepted by Sainsbury's, at The Clink Bridgwater . Whilst this will now enable Post Office Limited to restore a permanent service to Bridgwater and move from the temporary portacabin on Northgate it is not the solution we were looking for. I see this as a totally unsatisfactory outcome for the people of Bridgwater and one which will - I have no doubt -attract the most adverse publicity .I have written to ask  if there is any way in which this decision can be stopped and the issue re-considered in the sense that the fundamental for the community interests of Bridgwater is a post office within the town centre."


Councillors described the decision as 'Deplorable', 'scandalous' and 'dissapointing', 'Bridgwater has been shortchanged yet again', 'Bridgwater is being shafted', 'is this what they call their social conscience?!'

Westover Ward Councillors Brian Smedley and Kathy Pearce who had been in correspondence with and held meetings  with Tony Jones Regional Network Manager (Wales & the West of England) Network Services and Transformation Team Post Office Ltd, were outraged by the decision.


 Cllr Smedley (left)  said "When the Post Office re-located to the Splash site last September people were angry but we were re-assured that a town centre location would be sought by christmas 2011. When this dragged on into the New Year we wrote to Post Office ltd to urge action and get a move on. At that time they reported that there were two candidates who had been viewing and negotiating on premises within the town and they were confident that they would receive two applications at the beginning of the New Year and work will begin on the fit out shortly afterwards.we made the point that the Post Office is traditionally a major feature in any town centre and draws people into the town. There can be few towns the size of Bridgwater which do not have a central Post Office in a shop front location and therefore the length of time it is taking to resolve this matter is particularly unsatisfactory. "

a slap in the face

By June 8th 2012 still nothing had happened and so finally the licence from Sedgemoor expired . In order to protect the Council’s legal position they then served them with an immediate notice to quit. This was after 9 months of operating from the Temporary building and throughout this period they had continually failed to secure a permanent location in a town where there are more than enough vacant properties to choose from. Cllr Smedley added "Mention was made to us of town centre options - the Argos site and  the Bookshop in Eastover, but never had  counterspace  in an edge of town supermarket been suggested. This is frankly a slap in the face for the people of Bridgwater"

social conscience

Councillors backed the response by Town Clerk Alan Hurford to call for the Post Office to reconsider their action and to look to their social conscience and find a site in the town centre.

Reactions from the townspeople are likely to be equally angry. Campaigning group Bridgwater Forward wrote to the Post Office in February calling for  " Post Office Ltd to provide and fund premises, not the private sector. People will remember that our troubles began when the Cornhill Post Office, (former Crown premises, today a betting shop!) was sold off, abandoning high quality Crown post office provision in Bridgwater to the private sector. This has been a disaster, as well as an insult to our town and people.While this policy continues, we risk seeing our town centre post office service lurch from one failed business to another.Bridgwater is an important town. Our MP should support a demand for a dedicated Crown Office, providing the superb public service we used to know, and he should raise this matter in Parliament."

 Today spokesperson Glen Burrows (right) commented "We were told there would be a high street dedicated premises, not  a supermarket off-shoot, reliant on the retail fortunes and staffing policy of Sainsbury's. "


Cllr Kathy Pearce
(left) said "F
ollowing months of awaiting news of a new town centre post office, it is with huge disappointment that we now learn that the new location will be within the sainsburys store on the clink. We would like to know why it is the case that Bridgwater only seems to be worthy of cramped, stuck in the corner, post office facilities, when other, smaller, towns benefit from larger premises in town centre locations."

  " With so many empty shops of all shapes and sizes in the town, it is with astonishment that we learn that Post Office ltd are once again opting for an option similar to that of fourbouys, which saw customers shoe-horned into a corner of a shop and inadequate staffing which resulted in long queues. It is also disappointing that, apart from a couple of meetings, they have failed to keep councillors and the public informed of potential plans or the proposed facilities at the sainsburys store."