A town hall chief has fired off a warning after controversial plans to move a town’s post office into a shop were signed off.
Heywood Post Office will move from its current base in Hind Hill Street, to a new convenience store in Market Street from mid-September.
The announcement follows a lengthy consultation during which residents and councillors repeatedly raised concerns over road safety, parking and accessibility at the proposed location.
Many also voiced fears that – should the host shop fail – the branch would also be lost.
Post Office bosses say it will provide the same range of products and services as the old one, while remaining ‘commercially viable’.
Roger Gale, network and sales director, said: “The Post Office is committed to keeping our services at the heart of communities which we know is hugely important to people.
“This change means we can continue to do that, into the future. We are making sure we take the right action to sustain services for years to come.”
But Heywood Township chair Coun Peter Rush said he was ‘very disappointed’ by the decision and warned the Post Office it would be held to its promises.
He said: “We will be keeping a very close eye on it at the township and also the main body of the council.
“There are a lot of reservations, we are very sceptical of it – a lot of people thought it was in the right place.
“A decision has been made now and we have to make sure every angle is looked at from safety, loading and obviously the convenience they are offering.”
He added that it was vital the town kept its Royal Mail parcel delivery service, whether it continued to operate from the back of the Hind Hill Street site – where it is currently based – or at the new branch.
His views were echoed by Heywood North councillor Liam O’Rourke.
He said: “I’m Incredibly disappointed, I feel it was a tin-eared move by the Post-Office – especially considering the concerns around jobs and accessibility for disabled people.
“I can only hope that new retailer makes it work and Heywood people continue to have access to the service level that we are used to at the current location.”
Meanwhile, Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes – who, only last week presented a 1450-signature petition against the plans to Parliament – has called for an immediate rethink.
She said: “I am very disappointed about this decision. We were told that this was a genuine consultation and the concerns and opinions of local people would be listened to and taken on board.
“To move Heywood Post Office from its current location and to franchise the service to an as-yet unopened retail unit in a currently vacant shop in the town, leading to the fears that, should the new shop fail, the post office branch will also be lost.
“I hope the Post Office will reconsider this decision and keep our Crown Post Office in Heywood.”
The new Market Street branch is due to open at 9am on Thursday September 12.
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