Alex Cunningham has spoken of his frustration at the continuing chaos surrounding a consultation recently run by Post Office Ltd regarding a series of proposed changes to the Portrack Lane branch.
The Stockton North MP’s frustrations began when, having responded to the initial consultation by writing to the North East Area Manager in early-April, his letter was rejected from the address specified in the information documents.
Having copied the letter to an alternative address, the Labour MP was further incensed by Post Office Ltd’s failure to acknowledge his particular concerns, receiving only a standardised letter specifying that no comments were received in reference to accessing services that will cease to be available through the Portrack Lane branch.
And to add insult to injury, the Crown Post Office branch on Stockton’s High Street, which closed in February despite extensive efforts to prevent its downgrading and relocation, continues to be listed as an alternative service provider during the period of refurbishment for the Portrack Lane branch.
“While the investment being made to upgrade facilities and ensure that the Portrack Lane branch is modern and accessible for customers is to be welcomed, it is of great importance that Post Office branches continue to offer the services that are vital to local communities.
“The potential loss of Transcash facilities, at the same time as ceasing to accept payment by cheque, will have implications on the ability of some customers to make payments and will restrict their access to other services through the Post Office. I fear that this will hit those without access to other banking or financial services – often amongst the most vulnerable in the community – especially hard.
“Post Office Ltd’s failure to take into account the legitimate issues I raised is therefore highly dissatisfactory and demeans the very real concerns I have on behalf of my constituents. And continuing to provide details of the former Crown Office branch on Stockton’s High Street some three months after it was forcibly downgraded and relocated is an affront to local people, merely confirming that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing during these hasty reforms.
“I have therefore again written to Post Office Ltd requesting that my concerns are given appropriate consideration before the proposed changes are finalised, and calling on them to ensure that accurate information on alternative service provision is updated and communicated to stakeholders to avoid further confusion and insult.”