BIRCHENCLIFFE Post Office is to close next month – and it is uncertain whether it will ever reopen.
The post office, on Halifax Road, will close on November 21 because the sub-postmaster has resigned.
It will stay closed until next summer, when Post Office Ltd will decide whether it will be put forward for the axe as part of its Network Change programme.
The programme will see 2,500 post offices around the UK closed over the next 18 months, following instructions from the Government.
While Birchencliffe Post Office is closed, customers are being advised to use the nearest branches, which are Lindley or Oakes Post Offices, both on Acre Street.
Field change adviser Jeanette Donovan said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this closure will undoubtedly cause.”
The Network Change closures are taking place at different times in different areas, but public consultations will take place before final decisions are made.
Currently, Post Office Ltd is consulting customers about closures in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
Consultations will start for South Yorkshire, Huddersfield, Colne Valley and North Derbyshire on July 8, 2008.
Postwatch, the independent postal watchdog, is given 11 weeks notice to look at Post Office Ltd’s closure proposals for an area before public consultations begin.
Mike Jones, of Postwatch’s north region, said before the consultation is over, no decisions should be made. He said the Birchencliffe closure was a cause for concern.
“If a post office closes because a sub-postmaster resigns, we would be very wary about them saying we are not going to make any efforts to reopen that branch because there’s a closure programme coming. It is not supposed to happen on that basis.
“We would expect Post Office Ltd to keep an open mind about which branches are going to go and not be opportunistic.”
He said Postwatch is pushing for more consultation with customers on the closure programme.
“It is important to recognise that the Government has decided that 2,500 post offices need to close. We are trying to work to ensure that the best possible outcome for customers is achieved. We are encouraging customers to give local feedback. We need to ensure that the post offices which close are the right ones so that customers have reasonable access to services.”
He is urging the public to get involved with consultations and make their views known to Post Office Ltd and Postwatch.
He said: “Post Office Ltd are most inclined to do something about a closure if people do raise an objection. Customers who want to see their branch reopen should get in touch with them or us.”
Postwatch can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at Postwatch Northern England c/o Regional support team, 28-30 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0TT.