Cllr Debbie Davies provides an update on Baildon Post Office
You will probably be aware that Martins is due to close on 23rd October which would mean the loss of the much valued Post Office in the centre of Baildon.
Since we found out about this Baildon ward councillors Debbie Davies, Mike Pollard and Val Townend along with Philip Davies MP have been busy trying to find a solution to support residents and businesses who rely on a Post Office in this location.
On 14th July we met with the Post Office’s External Affairs Manager as we felt it was important to show him that although Station Road Post Office is nearby it is not accessible to all e.g. the steep hill, lack of parking and distance from businesses in the centre who use the Post Office for banking. He assured us that efforts would be made by the Post Office to retain a service in the centre.
We were pleased to be able to pass on contacts of somebody interested in incorporating the Post Office in their existing shop plus an existing postmaster interested in taking over the lease of the Martins shop and felt cautiously optimistic that a solution could be found.
Unfortunately the postmaster took matters no further, partly due to finding out the high rental costs of the Martins shop, the landlord of whom is Bradford Council. The existing shop owner was shocked to find out that she would be responsible for paying the £15,000+ costs of refitting her shop, something we were not informed of previously.
We have contacted Bradford Council to ask if they would be prepared to consider negotiating a lower rent for the Martins shop and we have contacted the Post Office to ask them to waive the installation costs as this would likely be a barrier to anybody potentially interested in taking on the Post Office. We haven’t received responses to these requests yet but these are certainly factors that could be seriously considered if we have somebody interested in taking on the Post Office.
In the meantime we have spoken to the Post Office’s Change Manager to request that the consultation documents relating to the closure be sent out as soon as possible and she has agreed to bring this forward to 13th August whereas there is usually only 6 weeks’ notice of closures so this will help publicise the matter and allow people to respond with suggestions of a way forward.
The Change Manager has visited several shops in Baildon but unfortunately hasn’t found anybody wanting to take on the Post Office with suitable premises – there are very limited options in terms of size and being disability compliant and the anticipated Post Office salary is only around £10-12,000 per year which makes things difficult with staff wages, overheads etc. to consider.
We are now working with Baildon Town Council to see if a community solution can be found and the Post Office’s External Affairs Manager has agreed to a meeting to discuss further how this might be done. We have spoken to a key person who was instrumental in setting up Wilsden’s Community Post Office and he has promised to offer any support he can to help us if this option is considered viable.
We have also been in touch with the new owners of the Station Road Post Office to see if there is any way they can support the need for a Post Office facility close to the village centre whilst appreciating they have only recently taken on the business and are extremely busy.
We hope this provides a useful update and would urge anybody interested in finding out more about running the Post Office to visit www.runapostoffice.co.uk for further information.