A Post Office in Welwyn High Street?

In a recent response to WPAG’s pre-election questions one of the candidates suggested that getting a Post Office reopened would be a good project for WPAG.

What this candidate may not have known is that when the old Post Office in the centre of Welwyn closed down, WPAG did spend a considerable amount of time looking at alternative options to get it reopened, but were unsuccessful. The key reasons were:

a/ To make a local Post Office viable it needs to be run in conjunction with another profitable business. The previous owner, despite running it in conjunction with a gift shop, could not make a profit. She also had staffing and security problems.

b/ We approached a variety of individuals and businesses and were given good reasons why there was no appetite for running a Post Office.  These were:

  • Not cost effective unless run in conjunction with a profitable/viable business alongside.
  • Security and insurance very expensive.
  • Staff training and costs.
  • Major personal commitment.
  • Personal responsibility and liability for any shortfall to the Post Office.
  • Problems with Post Office Horizon system.  Etc.  etc.
  • Considerable financial outlay

c/ We approached the existing local Post Offices in Oaklands and Codicote to see whether they would be interested in taking over the one in Welwyn High Street to run in conjunction with their own.  They said it would not be possible. 

d/ We found there was a ‘locum’ postmaster service, but the nearest was too far away and anyway would have required investment in location, IT and equipment.

e/ A community ‘not-for-profit’ Post Office still requires it to be run in conjunction with an additional business to make it viable plus a large time and responsibility commitment. It also requires investment in premises, IT and equipment and a sizeable rota of committed and trained volunteers to take the responsibility of running it. Even in this scenario the Post Office insist that the ‘postmasters’ are liable for any shortfall.

Although we are all sad to see the Post Office close, the recent survey for the Neighbourhood Plan showed that only 5 responders out of the 1128 who responded actually spontaneously mentioned the need for a Post Office. So perhaps we have got used to going to Oaklands or Codicote.

However, should WPC feel the need is strong enough and decide to start a working party to look into this again, we would be happy to be part of it.

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