03/06/2008

Four NI Post Offices Spared As 38 Axed

The 'listening' post office has announced it is to heed at least some of the matters raised in its recent public consultation on proposed NI branch closures - and is going to spare a total of four outlets originally earmarked to shut or change status.

Parkhall Post Office, Antrim, Strathroy Post Office, Omagh and the Throne Post Office, on Belfast's Whitewell Road will remain open while the Attical Post Office in Kilkeel - which was originally proposed for replacement by an outreach service - will now also remain open following a review of the issues raised during public consultation.

A statement from the Post Office said that, during the local public consultation, significant evidence of local regeneration with regard to both Parkhall and Strathroy Post Office branches and all other factors were taken into consideration, with a decision to retain both branches in its network.

"With regard to the Attical branch, Post Office Limited recognises the need to retain access to services in this area and, taking all relevant factors into consideration, has decided that a mobile outreach service was not a feasible option.

"Post Office Limited will therefore not be proceeding with the proposed outreach service and Attical Post Office will remain in the network," the statement said.

As regards the proposal to close the Throne Post Office, this was dependent on the reopening of a branch at the nearby Abbey Centre: "Post Office Limited has been unable to confirm this reopening and, taking this and all other factors into consideration, has decided not to proceed with the closure of the Throne branch."

However, following a six-week public consultation that ended on 12 May, 38 branches will close in Northern Ireland with the first closures scheduled to take place in July.

Post office services will then be provided through a network of 496 branches, which they have said all support the national accessibility criteria introduced by the Government and ensures that over 94.1% of the population in Northern Ireland will see no change.

Post Office Limited is also confirming the creation of 53 outreach Post Office services and, in addition, has decided to proceed with the closure of Groomsport Post Office and will be exploring the option of replacing the branch with a form of outreach service.

The post office is also offering increased opening hours at the following outreach services in response to feedback received during local public consultation: Boho Post Office (Enniskillen), Dunnamore Post Office (Cookstown), Park Post Office (Londonderry), Altnamachin Post Office (Newtownhamilton), Loughgall Post Office (Armagh), Killough Post Office (Downpatrick) and Ballyhalbert Post Office (Newtownards).

Sheila McCann, Post Office Limited's Network Development Manager for Northern Ireland, said: "These are difficult decisions that have not been taken lightly.

"We have considered very carefully all comments made during the public consultation.

"We believe that the plan announced today offers our customers in Northern Ireland the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the Government's minimum access criteria and the other factors the Government has asked us to consider."

Full details of closures on: www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange

(BMcC)

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