10:59AM, Friday 17 June 2016
A public consultation into plans for the future of Maidenhead Post Office has been branded a ‘stitch-up’ by campaigners.
The national organisation held a public meeting on the scheme, which would see services from the High Street branch moved into WH Smith in the Nicholsons Centre, on Monday.
However, representatives refused to say what level of opposition would need to be demonstrated before plans to close Maidenhead Post Office could be shelved.
The meeting followed a campaign launched by the Advertiser in February to save the branch, which has since received more than 1,000 declarations of support.
Yet the event, which lasted about four hours, attracted barely 25 people. The consultation itself is due to end on Wednesday.
One letter in the Advertiser’s Viewpoint pages this week calls it an ‘outrageous sham’, while Royal Borough Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), who helped organise a petition against the proposals which has collected about 3,000 signatures was also disparaging.
He said: “The meeting was just a bit of a stitch-up to be honest, but I think it just goes to show how important it is for as many people as possible to respond to the consultation.
“I think there’s been a danger the Post Office is trying to put people off and that just makes it even more important for people to respond.”
Despite the strength of feeling shown in opposition to the scheme, representatives for the Post Office have refused to outline how strong this would need to be before it considered even amending its plans – let alone shelving them altogether.
Speaking at the meeting, Laura Tarling, Post Office public relations manager, said: “The consultation process would be that we want to hear from people about how easy it is for people to get to the new location.
“We look at all the feedback we receive and make a decision on the basis of that.
“The number of responses in itself is relevant, but it’s the information we receive around accessibility that is important.
“At the end of the process we consider all the feedback and then a decision is made.”
Advertiser editor Martin Trepte said the way the consultation was structured made moving services into WH Smith appear to be a done deal. But he added: “It is essential we show them just how strong public feeling is in town against the closure of our Crown office.”
Visit www.postoffice-views.co.uk to find out more about the plans and have your say in the public consultation.
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