I raised a number of issues with the Post Office on behalf of local residents who had contacted me. Set out below is the most recent update I have received:
“Thank you for your email dated 13 Janaury 2016 regarding our plans to modernise Adel Post Office and introduce one of our new look local style branches. As a member of the National Consultation Team, I have been asked to respond to you directly.
As you will know, the aim of the engagement process is to help us understand customer views regarding the planned changes to the branch and if there needs to be any changes made to our original plans as outlined in our communication letters.
I hope it assures you to know that we are very aware of the vital role Post Office branches play in the local community. We are confident that our plans are the best way to offer Post Office services to our customers and to secure and safeguard the future of Post Office services within your local area. Please be assured that when we enter into an agreement with the postmaster, we make our requirements clear from the outset. Whilst the local model is designed to be incorporated into the existing retail store, the operator is contractually required to offer Post Office services during the hours advertised.
The fundamental design of the local format is for Post Office services to be offered from a combined retail till point so customers can carry out their Post Office business and pay for retail goods at the same time, therefore integrating well with an existing retail business. The new local style format is a simpler operating model than a traditional style Post Office and also requires less space. It is designed to handle products and services that are automated, meaning that customers can be served efficiently and transactions processed more quickly with the Post Office branch remaining open for the same hours as the retail operation.
I apologise for the recent experience that one of your constituents had at Adel Post Office. It is vitally important that our customers continue to receive a high standard of service. Please be assured that staff training approaches used for our new style formats are equally of a high standard to those undertaken in traditional Post Office models, which include excellent customer service and the need to respect customer confidentiality. All of our operators are expected to make sure that there is adequate counter cover to meet customer needs, particularly at peak times and this requirement would not change. Furthermore, both the operator and any person they employ that would handle Post Office transactions, would also have to comply with Post Office Ltd’s policies. This model allows the operator to utilise his staff more efficiently as they are able to manage both shop and Post Office transactions and all staff members would be trained on the Post Office system.
You may be interested to know that, you will still be able to access the vast majority of our banking transactions after the change. This includes all automated transactions, as well as enveloped cheque deposits and personal banking deposits using Chip and Pin. I am able to confirm that cash deposits are subject to a maximum deposit limit however, the operator will be happy to discuss individual requirements and transaction limits with customers.
Post Office takes security matters very seriously indeed and as you would expect this aspect has been fully factored into the development stage of the local model. As with every branch in our network, strict guidelines and measures are put in place to safeguard customers, staff and the cash and mail entrusted to the operator’s care. I would like to reassure you that all operators must take all reasonable precautions to safeguard the mail in their care and procedures are in place to ensure mail is held in a secure environment. We work closely with the operator to make sure that all security risks have been taken into account when deciding on the final layout and it in no way compromises the secure and professional service that we aim to provide at all our branches.
I hope my response has been helpful and thank you for contacting us on behalf of your constituents in regards to Adel Post Office.”
I am currently in the process of trying to organise a meeting with the Co-Op manager and the Post Master at Adel as there are a large number of unanswered questions.