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Bonkers Blog September 2019

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28 September (Part 3) - Post Office counters are hard to find

Bexley Council has been concerned about the lack of Post Office facilities in the borough for several months, ever since the borough’s Conservative areas were affected and not just the places which don’t matter much.

When what had been my nearest Post Office for 30 odd years closed last January the explanatory leaflet told me that the nearest Crown Office would be a 35 minute train ride away in Borough High Street. While I was posting a letter yesterday afternoon a lady asked me where the nearest Post Office was and I simply didn’t know.

When I first worked for the General Post Office in 1962 there were nearly 23,000 Post Offices in the country, now there are only half as many. Bexley Council is right to be concerned and the subject was debated by a Bexley Council Scrutiny Committee last Thursday evening.

Unfortunately the invited speaker from the Post Office failed to turn up. The Scrutiny Committee was left with only a written statement to go on.
Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) said she was “delighted to hear that the Post Office is committed to restoring the service [in Sidcup]” but they were “very late in letting people know what the situation was”. They must have had advance notice of the impending closure but chose to tell no one. The Chairman added that Slade Green, Belvedere and Bexley Village suffered the same problem.

Councillor Linda Bailey (Conservative, Crook Log) who presumably does not know that the Royal Mail and the Post Office are quite separate organisations, one privately owned, the other not, asked why her postman now drives a van painted green. “Up to now we have always had red ones. Is it the policy to change their colours? It is a very strange thing to see a green Post Office van.” Eventually she talked herself round to wondering if it might be electric.

Sometimes one despairs of former Cabinet Members for Business Regeneration and Growth. Sensibly no other Councillor commented on Royal Mail vans either green or red and went back to discussing the Post Office.

Daniel Francis was the only Councillor to remember that the borough’s biggest Post Office was five metres across the boundary into Greenwich and the Post Office offered no advice at all to himself or ward colleagues when it closed. He said the Council needs to tell the Post Office that the Abbey Wood Post Office is important to Bexley residents and must include that branch in any reports to the Council.

He said that the Post Office has “struggled to find anyone willing to take on the Post Office business in Abbey Wood” adding that there are two sets of flats with ground floor retail space planned for the Post Office site and across the road from it in Abbey Road “so there are options for a new Post Office site”.

Note: Peabody reported at a public meeting that the Post Office turned down their offer of accommodation on the Harrow Inn site because it would not be available soon enough.

The Chairman said that Councillor Francis should voice his concerns with the Post Office now and not wait for them to show up at a future Scrutiny meeting. Councillor Francis said he’d already had three telephone conference calls with them and exchanged several emails and the Post Office simply doesn’t respond. “I cannot get any answer out of them.”

The Chairman said he would be happy to ask Councillor Francis’ questions for him.

Note: My postman says that the Dartford sorting office has a small but increasing number of Peugot electric vans and not enough charging points.


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