A new Post Office counter has opened at WHSmith in Halifax following the controversial closure of the town’s crown office on Commercial Street.
Halifax MP Holly Lynch and Calderdale councillors raised concerns the move would deliver a poorer service, leave another historical building vacant and divert shoppers away from the top end of town.
Ms Lynch said: “It’s the end of an era for Halifax and I hope that a new use can be quickly found for the historic Post Office building on Commercial Street which is a great architectural asset for our town.
“The Government have left the Post Office to run itself as a business, cutting costs with little regard for the quality and ease of use of the public service it provides.
“I have said throughout this process that I do not believe closure of the Commercial Street building is the right decision and I will be sad to see our post office close.”
Leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift said: “I think it is the wrong decision by the Post Office but now they have decided we hope that the new service will be successful, however we do have continuing concerns.”
Following today’s (Thursday) opening customers queued at the specially-made counter at the back of the store.
But Courier readers on our Facebook page were less than impressed with the closure.
•Christine Mitchell said: “It’s a joke. Why leave a beautiful building that works well to be squashed in the back of another shop?”
•Barnaby Doc Neale said: “Is this a very late or early April Fools’ joke?
“That massive Post Office that was always ridiculously busy has now been replaced with a counter in a small branch of WHSmith? On that busy corner, with the energy company salesmen always loitering outside?”
•Tina Rose said: “Went in this morning the self service wasn’t working and when I wanted gas and electric nobody knew where the machine was, and when it was found it didn’t work. I know it is the first day but surely these things should have been in order maybe it will get better in time, who knows.”
On the eve of the opening, a WHSmith spokeswoman said: “WHSmith has successfully operated Post Offices within its stores since 2006 and is delighted to safeguard the future of Post Office services in Halifax.
“The branch will be open for an additional 4.5 hours a week, including a Sunday service.”
A Post Office spokeswoman said the move would make the branch “commercially sustainable” for the future.
She said: “We want to be able to continue to provide our services to customers on high streets and franchising provides a way of doing this more cost-effectively in some locations.
“The wider context is that the Post Office, like many businesses, has to adapt to a rapidly changing environment – for example, property costs are rising, more people use online for transactions etc.
“The new Post Office branch in Halifax will be open for longer than the existing one – there will be an extra 4.5 hours a week and it will be open on Sundays.”