A PETITION has been launched in a bid to force Wokingham’s town centre Post Office to revert to its previous opening hours.
Earlier this month, the stamp issuing kiosk in WH Smith announced that it was shutting on Saturday afternoons and wouldn’t open until Sunday. It is also opening later and closing earlier during weekdays.
Campaigners say this is not what was promised by bosses when they launched a consultation on the closure of its historic base in Broad Street, and the opening of the concession area in the stationery store.
At the time, Post Office network and sales director Roger Gale said: “By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter as much tomorrow as they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays”.
But this has now changed.
This week, a Post Office spokesperson told Wokingham.Today: “The high street is currently a challenging environment in which to operate.
“After discussions with WH Smith, we agreed to change the opening times at Wokingham Post Office to Monday to Friday 9am-5.30pm, Saturday 9am-12.30pm and to close on Sunday.
“Posters in branch gave four weeks’ notice of the change. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these revised hours.”
Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats have launched a petition calling on the Post Office to stick to the extended hours they promised in 2019.
Wokingham Town Council councillor Peter Dennis (Wescott East) said: “I’m very disappointed. I think they have taken the wrong business case on how they have interpreted the reduction in footfall.
“It’s not surprising as I think it was a poor move in the first place. They should have remained where they were.
“They are reneging on a commitment, I think based on false premises because we’re in a pandemic and naturally the footfall will have reduced.”
He added, “From a personal perspective, I’m very sad to see it close on a Sunday, I find that having a Post Office open then is extremely useful because it’s a service that’s in demand on a Sunday.”
Wokingham Labour group leader Cllr Andy Croy (Bulmershe and Whitegates) said: “The real battle for the future of the Crown Post Office in Wokingham was led by Labour and supported by Conservatives and John Redwood was on side.
“The Lib Dems could not bring themselves to support it and that’s when the argument was won or lost.
“They’re popping up now pretending to be defenders of opening times when everyone knew the 2019 consultation was a sham.”
The petition can be found at www.wokinghamlibdems.org.uk/post