TWO post offices in the borough have extended their opening hours to offer services for seven days a week.
Oakley Post Office, in Oakley Lane, reopened on January 11, after closing for refurbishment on January 3, and is now open for 73 hours a week extra, from 6am to 11pm, Monday to Sunday. Before the upgrade, it was open from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday.
The post office, in Shakespeare Road, Popley, Basingstoke, will close from January 17 to 25 for refurbishment, and then extend its opening from 6am to 10pm Monday to Saturday, and 7am to 10pm on a Sunday. At the moment, it is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm and from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday.
During the refurbishment, the nearest alternative post offices are in Abbey Road, Popley, and Forsythia Walk, Oakridge. The work to the two post offices, which are both in One Stop Stores, is part of Post Office plans to modernise the network and extend opening hours for customers. Post Office local is a new concept for delivering services, using an open plan counter with Post Office products and services available alongside retail transactions during shop opening hours.
Mark Lawrence, Post Office regional network manager for South and South East England, said: “We understand how important having a post office is to residents in Basingstoke, and we are confident that the Post Office local service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.
“This modernisation is part of a three-year investment programme, the largest in the history of the Post Office, that will see around 6,000 branches – about half the Post Office network – converting to new-style branches. The investment marks a commitment to no more branch closure programmes.”
However, Oakley Parish Council has criticised the Post Office for not listening to their comments during the consultation period. Councillor Bob Frankland said: “I suspect the consultation was box ticking. It was a disappointing exercise in consultation.”
Cllr Jenny Boutle added: “They must have already had the plans, to put them into place that quickly. They obviously didn’t take into account what was said.”
A statement from Post Office said: “For an on-site change to a Post Office branch, such as the modernisation of Oakley Post Office, there is a four-week period of customer engagement during which posters are put in the branch explaining the plans, and reply-paid cards are provided for customer responses, and letters are sent to local representatives.
“This is followed by a review of any feedback and then a notification of change, which typically lasts another four weeks before the improvement works begin to convert the branch.”
It added: “The views of the parish council and all other respondents were fully taken into account.”
A second stage of customer engagement is planned to run from February 8 to 22, to give customers the chance to give feedback on the new service.