02:57PM, Thursday 23 June 2016
A public consultation on plans for the future of Maidenhead Post Office has come to a close, with campaigners still uncertain whether their concerns will be listened to.
Despite having had six weeks to make their feelings known about plans to move services from the High Street store into WH Smith in the Nicholsons Centre, protestors remained unconvinced the Post Office would take heed of efforts to reverse the decision to franchise the branch.
This included a campaign by the Advertiser, which at the final count had gathered 1,253 responses opposing the move.
Petitions run by the Maidenhead branches of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties had also gained a combined total of more than 3,000 signatures from people opposing the plans.
Representatives from the two groups were outside the Post Office on Tuesday, where they were joined by staff from the store and Olu Odeniyi, president of the Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce, in a final showing against the proposals ahead of the formal closing of the public consultation period.
Speaking about the plans, Mr Odeniyi said: “It seems strange for this to happen at a time when the town is about to increase, both in terms of residents and in terms of more businesses coming in. As footfall in the town centre picks up, this is precisely the wrong time to be downsizing and it is of the utmost importance that this [the post office] remains – to see it downsize would be a regrettable move.”
Despite assurances from Post Office officials, few people involved in efforts to save the branch have expressed confidence their objections will be listened to.
At a public meeting on Monday, June 13, Laura Tarling, Post Office public relations manager, refused to confirm what level of opposition would need to be shown before the plans were revised.
“The number of responses in itself is relevant,” she said, “but it’s information we receive around accessibility that’s important.”
This prompted Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) to call the process a 'stitch-up'.
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