Post Office Modernisation
- Meeting of Community Profile & Partnerships OSC - Expired 07/05/15, Monday, 28th April, 2014 10.00 am (Item 49.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 49.
To receive a presentation from Non Williams, Senior Stakeholder Manager, and Sue Whittall, Area Manager for Wales.
That the presentation be noted.
The Chairman welcomed and introduced Mrs. Non Tudur Williams, Senior Stakeholder Manager, and Mrs. Sue Whittall, Area Manager, and invited them to give a presentation on the Post Office modernisation.
Mrs. Williams provided background information and context and gave a presentation on the Post Office Strategy 2020. The main points of the presentation were:
· Securing the Future
· Transforming the Post Office to serve the changing needs of customers
· Government funding agreed to complete modernisation programme by 2018
· Commitment to maintain the branch network at around its current size of c11500
· Commitment to stay at the heart of local communities and support local businesses
· Making it easier for customers to access Post Office services when convenient for them
The Chairman thanked Mrs. Williams for an informative presentation and invited Members to raise questions.
Councillor Brian Dunn referred to the changes to contracts by the Post Office concerning how Subpostmasters received an income and commented on the removal of subsidies and quarterly payments and the introduction of payments for transactions only.
During discussion Members raised a number of further concerns and referred to the issue of customer and staff security specifically in relation to the new open-plan counters and extended opening hours.
The Chairman invited Councillor Christine Jones, who was not a member of the Committee, to speak at the meeting. Councillor Jones outlined the dissatisfaction which had been expressed by residents of her Ward concerning the changes which had been made to their local branch. She explained that she had detailed her concerns on the proposed changes in the customer engagement process but felt that these had been ignored.
Councillor Dave Mackie expressed apprehension that there could be a decline in the number of post office branches in local communities if they were deemed to no longer be a viable business concern as a result of the transformation changes.
Mrs. Williams acknowledged the concerns raised and reported on the significant investment being made to modernise and maintain the Post Office branch network to serve the changing needs of customers for the future. She gave an assurance that there was no programme of enforced branch closures and that the Post Office was committed to remaining at the heart of local communities and supporting local businesses. She cited the recent opening of the Post Office facility at the Blue Bell in Halkyn and ongoing discussions concerning service provision at Mynydd Isa, as local examples. She continued that there was a demand for extending the current hours of business to enable customers to access services at a time which was convenient to them.
In response to the concerns raised around matters of security, Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Whittall advised that the safety and security of staff and customers was a key priority and any issues raised would be given utmost consideration. She referred to the widespread consultation which had been undertaken with stakeholders on the transformation of the network of Post Offices and commented on the benefits of modernisation in terms of increased customer satisfaction, rise in retail sales, and greater efficiencies in staffing and retail space.
Members were advised that income for subpostmasters, operating a new-style Main model branch would be protected for a period of three years. The Post Office was committed to maintaining the branch network at around its current size and to support community and outreach branches which were a focal point for local life which had no other suitable retailer nearby. Subpostmasters who wished to convert their branch would receive funding from the Post Office and would receive compensation if they wished to leave their business.
The Chairman thanked Mrs. Non Williams and Mrs. Sue Whittall for their detailed responses to Members questions.
That the presentation be noted.