Stay of Execution for Post Office as all sides renew commitment to find solution

Celebrations as Post Office stays open

After a weekend  of uncertainty and pressure from all sides, Bridgwater’s Eastover Post Office has been given a stay of execution and has re-opened with everyone involved pledging to work together to maintain the service.

A Post Office spokesperson, said: “We are pleased to announce that Bridgwater Post Office has re-opened this morning with a temporary Postmaster at the same location, the branch had been temporarily closed since Saturday. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure, which was beyond our control. We have worked hard to restore service to the area as quickly as possible. We are also looking for a permanent solution. The vacancy is advertised on our website – we would encourage anyone interested in this new business opportunity to get in touch with us.”

Town Clerk Alan Hurford who has been on the case on behalf of Bridgwater Town Council, said “‘With valiant efforts all round, the Post Office has reopened and BTC with partners will continue to work towards a permanent long term solution”.

Planning deferal buys time

Cllr Kath Pearce “Change of use a ‘retrograde step’

The future of the Eastover Post Office was plunged into doubt last week as a planning application to convert the site into a tanning salon went before Sedgemoor’s Development Committee with the Sedgemoor planning officer Dean Titchener recommending approval. Alan Hurford spoke at the meeting saying “I hope strict interpretation of planning policy will not override the real need for a Post Office in town and that the committee will consider the impact not just on local residents but on nearby businesses as well who use the Post Office for their banking”

Bridgwater members also spoke up. Cllr Kath Pearce (Labour,Westover) said “I do not think this change of use will benefit Bridgwater’s town centre. Eastover is up and coming with two new hotels and will be part of the Celebration Mile. I feel this change would be a retrograde step”

Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Graham Granter (Labour, Fairfax) said “There are  still ongoing negotiations which if successful could result in the someone new taking over the Post Office in the same site, and I would argue that the application should be deferred while these talks took place.”

Mayor of Bridgwater Cllr Graham Granter,urged deferral of vote to buy time

Tory councillors were divided on the issue with Cllr Gill Slocombe (Bridgwater, Wyndham)  supporting ‘more detail’ whilst warning  of ‘health issues’ relating to the effects of using solariums and Cllr Janet Keen (Con, Highbridge)  saying she “would support the change of use”.

The Development committee agreed a motion to defer a decision until a site visit had taken place.

Cllr Brian Smedley, Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, said “The decision taken by Sedgemoor Planning Committee to defer was a wise one and particularly important to buy time for Post Office limited to commit to keeping the current premises open and to work in the long term for a secure permanent base for a Post Office in the town centre and without any disruption of or gap in service. We will hold them to this.”