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Community / Community council voices concern over post office move

LERWICK Community Council will be responding to a Post Office consultation despite agreement that the move of the main Commercial Street branch to within Conochies newsagent is a ‘fait accompli’ and that any comments made will have no impact on the company’s plans.

The post office on Commercial Street is due to move Conochies in January 2020.. Photo: Shetland News

The main concerns raised by community councillors on Monday evening were parking and congestion in the vicinity of the new post office, disabled access, and whether the service within the newsagent would be able to cope with bulk mail drop-offs – particularly at busy times such as in the run up to Christmas.

Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell said he was not impressed by the way Post Office Ltd had gone about the move, and he had already responded to the company “in strong terms”.

Community councillor Arwed Wenger, who works for Royal Mail, said the move would make the internal workings between Post Office and Royal Mail more difficult, as mail would have to be picked up from Conochies to be sorted in the old building.

“All mail still has to go through the original building,” he said.

Highlighting the positives, community councillor Gary Robinson said the promised new automatic door plus the extension of the opening hours were welcomed.

Emma Miller, who is also the project manager of Living Lerwick, said that from a town centre point of view she was relieved that a post office would continue to operate from Commercial Street.

But she also voiced concerns about how people would be able to use the new post office and how it will be staffed.

She said: “First of all, I am really glad that they are not proposing to take the post office away from the street because I think it is important that the post office stays in the town centre.

“I have got concerns about the location for access for folk. Where the post office is at the moment there is limited parking available; where the proposed site is going to be there is no parking that is potentially going to block the road or pose a hazard for anybody else.

“During the busier times of the year I wonder how the size of the building will cope with the amount of people trying to access it, and for business parcels. I think, they [Post Office Ltd] need to have a think about how the bulk mail can be dropped off possibly at another location.”

The Commercial Street post office branch is due to move to Conochies in January 2020. A spokesman for the company said on Tuesday morning: “Consultations give us an opportunity to get our customers’ views, to help us make sure we’ve got the best way forward before we finalise our proposals.

“The local public consultation is for a period of six weeks and allows customers and local representatives to participate by sharing their views and comments. The feedback we receive helps us to identify whether any changes to the original proposal may be needed.

“We’d like to thank the local community for taking part in the public consultation about the relocation of Lerwick Post Office. The consultation will end on 23 October, and we will then begin the process of considering all the feedback we received. We will let the community know once we have reached a final decision.”