THE MINISTER in charge of Post Offices got a special delivery on Tuesday – and it was wrapped in a Wokingham Paper bag.
On Monday, Wokingham MP Sir John Redwood was one of hundreds of people to visit our stall at the May Fayre and pick up a goody bag. And he immediately put it to good use by using it to hold the 6,000-strong petition signed by residents angry that the Post Office in Broad Street will close next month.
Under the closure plans, a kiosk will be opened in WHSmith in Market Place – work has already started to convert the store, which has been closing early to allow construction to take place.
But Sir John felt that such is the strength of feeling over the closure and the way in which the Post Office consulted that he had to meet with government minister Kelly Tolhurst.
Writing in his blog, he noted: “[On Saturday] again in Wokingham the Post Office was busy, demonstrating insufficient counters and the need to open up the other part of the current building to provide more service. Instead the plans to close it and slim it down in WHSmith continues as if this demand did not exist.
“I at last have a meeting with the Minister to put the case against closure again to the government. On Tuesday I will meet her at the Department. I will take that opportunity to present the Petition against closure.
“I thank the local Labour party who did a lot of the work organising it and collecting signatures during inclement weather in the Town Centre, and to the Conservative Councillors who also supported it.”
He added: “I will explain to the Minister my own views of the problems this plan causes, and set it in the context of an expanding town with more demand for services from the new residents who will soon be moving in.”
The petition was presented to Sir John’s office in the Rose Street Conservative HQ on Friday by Cllr Rachel Burgess and Cllr Andy Croy. The Labour councillors have previously said that they tried to hand it over to Post Office bosses during a consultation event held in February in Wokingham Methodist Church, only for it to be turned away.
Cllr Burgess said: “We have said from the start that Wokingham’s Crown Post Office can only be saved by political intervention at the Ministerial level.
“We are happy for a copy of the petition to be presented to the Minister as she will make the decisions.
“Residents have made it clear, over and over again. They want the Crown Post Office kept in its historic location. Wokingham Labour has worked hard to support residents and we are happy for our MP to use the petition to ensure the Minister knows the strength of local feeling. “
Cllr Croy added: “The Post Office never, ever intended to consult, they didn’t consult and to suggest they wanted to consult is naive or deliberately misleading.”
The Post Office is due to close on June 5, with the WHSmith kiosk opening the following day. It is not yet known what will happen to the Royal Mail parcel collection service.