MELKSHAM Post Office is set to become a franchise in January 2020 and will continue to operate from its current building.
In December 2018, the government announced that it was franchising 74 Crown post offices (such as Melksham). In January this year, Post Office workers throughout the country went on strike, fearing that franchising may result in closure of branches or lower paid jobs.
West Wiltshire will no longer have any Crown-owned post offices.
In Melksham, ZCO Ltd, who operate a number of main post offices throughout the country, will take on the franchise from the current premises at 31 Church Street. The company says it will be carrying out a refurbishment and will also introduce longer opening hours on Saturdays.
The refurbishment plans will see four serving positions in total; one screened, two open plan and a Post Office serving point. The premises will also sell retail items such as cards and stationery.
The news follows a period of uncertainty for the future of the main town post office. In 2014, it was set to move to 6-8 Bank Street as part of a nationwide restructuring of the Post Office. However, this was delayed and money was invested instead in the premises as part of the company’s ongoing modernisation programme.
However, last year there were fears again over the future of Melksham Post Office as services in nearby towns, including Trowbridge, were franchised into retail stores, fearing a loss of services provided.
Before taking over in January, the new franchisee, ZCO Ltd, is asking the public for their comments about access to Post Office services during a consultation period. You can have your say by filling out a response from at postofficeviews.co.uk using the branch code 010548. Comments close on Wednesday 6th November.
A spokesperson for the Post Office said, “We are making this change in order to maintain Post Office services in this location. You will be aware of unprecedented changes on our high streets and the challenges facing many retailers.
“The needs of our customers are evolving too. Our priority is to provide secure and commercially sustainable services in all communities, continuing to meet customer needs now and into the future. We believe the changes we are making at Melksham are the best way to secure Post Office services at this location. The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Office branches, large and small, are already successfully operated by independent franchisees.
“We are talking to the Melksham branch team about their potential options. Employees have the right to transfer their employment in line with TUPE legislation following the decision to franchise their branch, there might also be opportunities for redeployment or a voluntary settlement.”