Residents say the impending closure of the Post Office in Newent is “another nail in the coffin” for the town.
The Post Office confirmed last week that its branch on Church Street will close at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24), following the resignation of the Postmaster and withdrawal of the premises for Post Office use.
The company says the closure is “temporary” while it considers its options to reinstate a service to the town.
News of a closure was leaked back in the summer but was confirmed last Wednesday (November 10) in a letter to customers.
It leaves residents in the town without any banking services, which the Post Office has provided since the closure of Barclays - the town’s last bank - in 2017. And it means the nearest branch will be 3.6 miles away from the town centre, with the government’s own criteria stating that 99 per cent of the population should live within three miles of a Post Office.
The nearest Post Offices to Newent are in Gorsley and Longhope, with an outreach service offered at The Beauchamp Arms in Dymock for two hours on a Friday.
But some services currently offered in Newent, such as Travel Money and Passport Check and Send, are not available at those locations.
The letter to customers from Scott Lacey, Post Office Network Provision Lead, reads: “I would like to assure you that we are currently investigating the options available which will enable us to reinstate a Post Office service to the local community.
“In exploring this, it is important that any future service is sustainable for the person operating the service, and for Post Office Limited.
“Future provision will reflect customer numbers and usage and we may take the opportunity to establish an alternative type of service.
“This may be a local style branch which runs alongside an established retail shop in newly refurbished premises and creates a more modern and convenient experience for customers.”
A survey by the Newent and District Business Club in the summer found the Post Office was the second most popular business in the town, behind the Co-op. Out of more than 500 respondents - made up of town residents and those in the surrounding areas - the Post Office received 28 per cent of the vote.
Residents expressed their concerns by commenting on a post from Newent Town Council sharing the letter, with one person saying: “Another nail in the coffin for Newent. There will soon be no point in coming in at all - so many empty shops and now nowhere to do any banking.’’
“Not everyone can travel to the nearest town.”
Another said: “This has been an ongoing situation for years.
“Shame on the post office for not sorting this problem long before now.”