Despite the self-serving publicity of Post Office management about the ‘new Post Office’ in Cavendish Square, explaining what a wondrous thing it would be, we discover that, as predicted there are many problems with the new service. The tiny Premier Shop into which it has been squeezed has the same push doors as previously. We were told there would be ‘wide doors’. Although the previous Post Office round the corner did not have automatic doors there was a counter by the doors and a member of staff was easily available to open them for customers on mobility scooters or in wheelchairs.
There are other problems with the facilities:
- If anybody manages to get into the shop on a large mobility scooter they would have extreme difficulty turning round, especially if there are people shopping in there at the same time. There is insufficient room for a turning circle.
- The shop has shelving with food and general goods in the area where people queue for the post office counter.
- The aisle on the far right (adjacent to one of the PO counter positions) is very narrow.
- The cash machine outside the old Post Office is no longer available. The cash machine in the Premier is behind the door. Anybody on a mobility scooter would have to park it to get in there. Anybody in a wheelchair would struggle to get to it and might find the door being opened into their back.
Complaints from users have already revealed:
- There have been queues outside the door on a number of occasions. During a heavy downpour customers had to seek cover in the adjacent bus shelter.
- Some people on mobility scooters have turned away because there was nobody to help them in. Some on large mobility scooters have not even tried to enter for lack of room.
- Staff have had to move goods placed on the floor to make room for mobility scooters.
- In the previous Post Office the queueing system separated the queue from the counter positions. In the new one we have had complaints about the absence of privacy as the queue is literally behind the shoulder of the customer at the counter.
Parks & East Walcot Community Forum Secretary, Martin Wicks said:
“It is no satisfaction to know that the problems envisaged have quickly emerged. Everybody knew that the Premier shop was too small, but the positioning of shelving for general goods in the same area where people will be queuing for the Postal counter, means that other customers will get in the way of the queue and will have to move out of the way for anybody on a mobility scooter or wheelchair. If there is a big queue then manoeuvring it in and out will be more difficult and is a potential safety risk.
In order for the shop to be fully accessible for disabled people there should ideally be automatic doors. A Citizens Advice Bureau report suggests that, in the absence of that, there should be a button outside for people to ring and indicate to staff that they need assistance to get in.
Post Office Management, who organised a bogus consultation, which completely ignored the views of their customers, has shown utter contempt towards them. It was patently obvious that the move was purely a means of saving money.
Ironically, we find that the Post Office ‘social responsibility’ statement on their website says that:
“Ensuring we deliver an excellent service and are as accessible as possible to everyone in society is an important part of our business.”
The Post Office at Cavendish Square they have re-located to shows this to be empty words. The Parks & East Walcot Community Forum will be pressing the Post Office to improve the facilities in line with their paper policy.”