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BUSINESSES in Melksham have expressed an interest in taking over the franchise for the town’s main Post Office, currently based in Church Street, and moving it to their own business premises according to Post Office representatives.
At a public meeting held at Melksham Assembly Hall, a senior stakeholder for the Post Office, Laura Tarling, answered questions from the public, town councillors and Post Office employees about the future of the Melksham branch. Approximately 75 people attended the meeting where the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) vowed to continue to oppose plans to relocate the Church Street office.
Earlier this year the Post Office announced that Melksham was one of 70 of its crown offices being considered for franchise which would mean the closure of the Church Street branch.
Chris Roche of the CWU spoke on behalf of the union promising to oppose the plans. He said, “Franchising Melksham Post Office will be detrimental to the town and the community. It is a well known fact that franchising does not work. It does not work for the post office staff who will be dropped to near minimal wage, it does not work for the customer who will find their post office at the back of a shop possibly out of the town centre and it simply won’t work for Melksham.
“You will not get any of our employees working for the new franchisee, because they will be working for barely above the minimum wage, and they are better than that. As part of our campaign we will boycott any organisation that takes over Melksham Crown Post Office. We will organise that boycott, the campaign goes on.”
Senior stakeholder manager Laura Tarling responded saying, “Post offices aren’t viable on their own, it’s a widely known fact. In order to become more efficient we do need to work with other businesses and partners.
“The service customers receive in Melksham will not be affected. We will endeavour to keep the post office in the town centre and there will be no service cuts if possible. Accessability for customers will not be affected and any decisions will be subject to a public consultation. Local businesses have expressed interest in taking on the franchise, but I’m not in a position to say who.”
If a suitable business partner comes forward, a six-week public consultation will take place, with the new franchisee potentially taking over from April 2014.