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posted 5 Jul 2012, 02:22 by Westover Labour   [ updated 5 Jul 2012, 02:27 ]

Following widespread concern in the town at the decision by Post Office Ltd to relocate the promised Town Centre post office to inside the edge of town Sainsbury's store, an Emergency meeting was held with key players and as a result Post Office bosses agreed to face the public at an open meeting and lay out the process of consultation the decision would have to go through before the idea became reality.

Labour ward councillors for Eastover & Westover (Julian Taylor & Brian Smedley) plus Town Clerk Alan Hurford and Sedgemoor Corporate Director Alison Griffin, met last night with Stakeholder manager Laura Tarling and the man who will make the final decision Tony Jones.

Tony Jones said before a final decision was made " a period of consultation would have to be carried out and this would start on 16 July and last for 6 weeks.  After which an analysis would be made and the decision would then solely be down to him".

Cllr Brian Smedley asked if the consultation would be genuine and with a realistic chance of being influenced by peoples involvement or was it just window dressing for a done deal which would see Mr Jones signing a death warrant for the town centre.

Tony Jones said he had the option to accept or reject the recommendation depending on the strength of the consultation response.

Public Meeting

Cllr Smedley (right) asked if he would be happy to face the people of Bridgwater in a public meeting to answer these questions. Mr Jones said he would be prepared to..but not neccesarily 'happy' to.

Cllr Julian Taylor, who, as chairman of Community Scrutiny committee, said his members had looked at this issue with Mr Jones present in the past and was very dissapointed at the Sainsbury's recommendation . He said "Town Centre shops had been offered, and a town centre location promised yet the response seems to be to choose a location where the aim is not  to provide the Post Office that we need but to get footfall into a store as a loss leader." 

Mr Jones said he has never promised a town centre location merely a post office for Bridgwater and 'at the end of the day the post office is a business'.

Social Conscience

Alan Hurford asked about the Post Office's so called 'social conscience'. He asked if this location didn't immediatly alienate 3/4 of the town and also completely ignores local planning dictats. He stressed that the Town Council meeting had expressed unanimous opposition to the location  and had used words like 'appalled' and 'disgraceful' to describe the decision. The Town Clerk offered to go over the documents with the Post Office at once to point out obvious errors such as bus routes , parking and traffic flow and said he felt the consultation process looked slightly 'cart before horse'.

Alison Griffin stressed that Sedgemoor were not happy with the temporary location on Northgate and also wanted a better town centre solution mentioning that there had been a noticeable decline in customer usage and staff service there and that she would not like a reversion to a back of store location such as had proved controversial for customers in the past.

Laura Tarling said that it was her role to engage with local authorities and she would start this process at once to ensure that the consultation was reaching the right people.


Cllr Taylor
 (left)said the Post Office at one time had town centre premises and the decision to sell them was a poor one for the town. He said "Bristol road is not the town centre, the parking in the location is not conducive to simple post office use and this decision will only be at the expense of town centre shops. A dedicated post office in the centre of the town would help regenerate the town centre and we believe the consultation will say this and that Tony Jones will recognise that in his final decision."