CIVIC leaders have raised concerns over the potential move of Basingstoke Post Office.

The Post Office has announced proposals to relocate the London Road Post Office to the WHSmith store in The Malls.

Both Basingstoke MP Maria Miller and deputy leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Cllr Terri Reid have expressed concerns - specifically around a loss of footfall to the Top of The Town and any potential loss of services.

The announcement is part of a deal to relocate up to 40 Post Offices into WHSmith stores in 2019, and for WHSmith to take over the running, on a franchise basis.

There will be a six week public consultation on the proposal with it unclear as of yet when this will begin.

Mrs Miller said “The post office on London Road is part of the fabric of the town and hub of activity at the Top of the Town. Whilst many residents now use Post Office services online and where they are located in local shops, the central location of Basingstoke's main post office makes it a valuable asset in the town.

"If this is to move to WHSmith’s in shopping centre, then this could adversely impact the Top of the Town.

"Residents need to speak up and make their views heard as part of the PO consultation. I am particularly concerned that the town doesn't lose services currently on offer if changes are made.”

Cllr Reid added: “This is a hugely concerning development. A move away from a dedicated Post Office to a franchised offer within a shop must surely mean a diminution of services and longer queues.

"The post office at the Top of the Town is accessible by public transport and by car, and parking is free for the first hour there. Parking is not free in the Malls or Festival Place which therefore means reduced accessibility for those on lower incomes. And of course, this has huge implications for footfall at the Top of Town."

Lucy Boazman, chief executive of Basingstoke Together, the town's Business Improvement District, said: "On behalf of Basingstoke Together BID I’d like to stress how concerning this is and that we urge all residents and local businesses to raise their voice and object during the public consultation. 

"There is a real collective effort to support Top of the Town and removing vital services such as the Post Office goes against everything people are working towards. 

"Ultimately this will come down to a commercial decision by the Post Office but it’s the voice of local businesses, residents and shoppers that will go a long way in ensuring this move does not go ahead." 

Post Office network and sales director Roger Gale said: “WHSmith and Post Office have worked together successfully for more than a decade and our collaboration helps to secure our services on high streets for years to come.

“We’re continuing to respond to unprecedented change on high streets and in consumer trends.  By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter as much tomorrow as they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays.

“We’ve made significant changes in our network of 11,500 Post Offices over the past few years, modernising more than 7,500 branches and increasing opening hours for customers by more than 200,000 a week.  We’ve also developed our services, including the introduction of everyday banking for customers of the UK’s high street banks.

“The vast majority of the Post Office’s network of 11,500 Post Office branches, large and small, are run on a franchise or agency basis with retailers as part of thriving businesses.  It makes sense to further expand this successful, sustainable way of providing Post Office services to customers.”