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Campaign to save Dartford post office sees hundreds sign petition

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 October 2018

Dartford's post office in Hythe Street is under threat of closuret. Photo: Google Maps

Dartford's post office in Hythe Street is under threat of closuret. Photo: Google Maps

Archant

More than 450 people have signed a petition to keep a Dartford post office open.

It is presently a stand-alone building in Hythe Street, but postal bosses have revealed plans to relocate inside the WH Smiths store in High Street.

The petition was organised by the town’s Labour Party group to gauge public opinion.

The Dartford deal is part of a national scheme which sees 40 post offices moved into the retailer’s units adding to the 135 they have already.

Labour leader Cllr Jonathon Hawkes said: “The worrying proposal to downgrade the service to a franchise in WHSmiths is bad news.

“Local people feel very strongly about their post office – that’s why they have been supporting our petition and telling us they want local councillors to stand up for post office workers and customers and oppose this change.”

He added: “In other towns, we’ve see that franchising has been the first step towards post offices disappearing from High Streets completely.

“This loss is a blow to our already depleted High Street and potentially another empty shop.”

Labour activist Kelly Grehan added: “We’re told WH Smiths in Dartford is inadequate for disabled customers. The shop is small, lacks automatic doors for access and crucially does not have the disabled parking the current location has.”

A Citizen’s Advice study found 49 per cent of Britons say a post office branch is one of the most important services in their local community.

In second was a bank at 31 per cent, then a library on 29 per cent and a pub with 25 per cent.

Post Office Network and Sales Director Roger Gale said it has worked well with the store for over a decade.

He added: “We’re continuing to respond to unprecedented change on high streets and in consumer trends. By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter as much tomorrow as they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays.

Mr Gale said the plans are subject to six-week local public consultations.

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