Haslemere shopkeepers have spoken out against the likely-permanent closure of the town’s central post office in West Street – and the loss of the town centre’s last remaining cash machine.
Two petitions campaigning against the closure have to-date amassed more than 800 signatures, and this week the town’s business community has added its voice to those calling for the post office to be reinstated.
President of Haslemere and District Chamber of Commerce Craig McGowan stated the post office was “simply one of those unspoken and taken for granted services”.
With the post office now gone, he said the public have now realised just how important it was, especially after the series of bank closures in Haslemere town centre.
With it being the only place that has a cashpoint it’s vital that it comes back to the town centre, said Mr McGowan.
Many still rely on cash, which is essential to Haslemere’s economy, added the chamber president.
A spokesman for The Tantum Trust charity shop in High Street said the post office was “the ultimate lifeline for Haslemere, especially the elderly”, adding the nearest alternative post office branch was nearly a mile away.
While a shopkeeper at Rock ’n’ Shards jewellers in High Street expressed confusion at the closure, as the West Street post office was “always busy”. They said the closure would make it harder for businesses to trade online and sell items by post and complete returns, and added it would deter older shoppers from the town.
After the closure of the town’s last bank in 2021, they added it felt as if town businesses were “knocking our heads against a brick wall”.
Another High Street business owner at Istanbul Barbers said the loss of vital services such as the post office would “change the whole atmosphere of the community”. And a worker at The Original Factory Shop said numerous older customers had said the closure negatively affected the community.
There is a glimmer of light, however, after Haslemere Town Council confirmed a contract has been awarded to a “major UK ATM operator” to provide a free-to-use cash machine in Haslemere town centre.
This will replace the cash machine lost with the closure of the post office in West Street on May 31. However, like the town’s promised banking hub, a venue is yet to be agreed and it is only hoped the ATM will be in place “by the end of the year”.
“This ATM is in addition to the banking hub which is also coming to Haslemere in 2023,” said a council spokesman.
There are, however, no plans for the reinstatement of post office services in the town centre after the West Street post office closed its doors following the resignation of its operator, with no plans to re-open the branch.
MP Jeremy Hunt revealed last week he had approached Waitrose to operate a post office counter in branch, but added the supermarket chain had dismissed the proposal.