Members of the public stepped up to the michrophone and to a person denounced the post office proposals.
Ken Hammersley said "I support the Hooks proposal and oppose Sainsbury's - crossing the clink is dangerous at the best of times"
Sally Jones said "The clink is not pedestrian friendly. We need a town centre location and restore confidence in our traders."
"Clink is not pedestrian friendly"
Glen Burrows commented "Extended opening hours may be ok for pubs but are irrelevent for post offices. What is important is quality of service. The town centre previously had a dedicated crown Post Office. Downgrading that to the back of a shop and then to a portacabin added insult to injury. We need convincing that this consultation is genuine!"
Alan Hitchcock, who was blind, said "I would like to know how disabled and aged people can reasonably be expected to make it to the proposed new site. These supermarkets are ruthless and they don't care what they destroy."
Mervyn Todd, an Eastover trader, said "There are enough empty shops I am baffled by this decision. they're just crushing the small traders."
"Decision beyond belief"
Mark Baker of the CWU Postmasters section raised the question of the seriousness of engagement by Post Office Ltd. "It is our belief that POL are not offering local business communities a full range of options with which they could take on a PO service, They're only offering the limited option of a PO local or a PO main operating contract and remuneration package. Neither of these two options are attractive to an independent business person due to the removal of the fixed element of pay that currently is provided to the traditional PO model"
"Proposal is ludicrous"
Doug Trunks produced a petition with 350 names on it which he had collected in just 2 hours earlier today "We need a post office for Bridgwater to be located in the town centre."
Cllr Dave Loveridge (Labour,Eastover) said "Sainsbury's car park is not pedestrian friendly, you take your life in your hands there. This proposal is ludicrous, we had a post office in the town centre and now we're going backwards."
Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour,Westover) said "The post office needs to be in the town centre, there needs to be a public evening meeting so that traders can attend, and the consultation needs to be genuine. Why does every other town in Somerset have a town centre post office yet POL can't manage one for Bridgwater?!"
Cllr Steve Austen (Labour Hamp) said "There will be a major increase in Bridgwater's population over the next few years. I can see the only people who would benefit from this move would be sainsbury's!"
The opposition crossed party lines as Tories (forgetting their pro-supermarket heritege ) joined in.
Cllr Mike Caswell (Con,Cannington) "I beg of you to locate the post office in the town centre"
Cllr Gill Slocombe (Con,Wyndham) "the post ofice should be in the heart of the town. To put it in Sainsbury's is shameful!"
Cllr John Swayne (Con,North Petherton) "It is indisputable that sainsbury's is the wrong location"
Cllr David Baker (Con,Wyndham) "It's the wrong location, it's an unsafe area,it's dangerous parking and the traffic is bad. "
consultation will be genuine
Laura Tarling from POL answered the public by saying "The consultation will be genuine, we're governed by a code of practice. Yes we have changed our mind in the past so it's not a done deal. We are glad to hear the comments made today -especially things like the petition are very useful as evidence. Regarding the crown office, we have 11,800 post offices and only 373 are crown offices. We have to be governed by efficiency as the crown network is expensive and that's why we moved to franchises."
Although the main man Tony Jones wasn't present, his deputy Catherine Alexander tried to explain the thought process to date. "We need both the location and the person to put together an offer. We run a business and we need to make a profit. Sainsbury's had the best customer offer."
When pushed to explain this point she said " I walked around your town and I saw empty shops, charity shops and it would be difficult to introduce a new business into that environment. It's very difficult to see exactly where the town centre actually is . This is what we mean by Sainsbury's providing the best customer offer."
|Cllr Taylor |
"Recommends SDC Exec to
reject sainsbury's move"
Chairman Cllr Julian Taylor (Labour,Eastover) said "The committee has concluded that the proposed move to Sainsbury's would be inconvenient to customers, reduce footfall to the town centre at a time when it needs regeneration, is contrary to the Local Development Framework, the Bridgwater Challenge and the Celebration Mile and is recomending to SDC Executive that it respond to the Consultation making this clear whilst at the same time engaging with Post Office ltd to find a commercially acceptable site in the Town centre."
The consultation will continue until 5th september.
The motion to oppose the sainsbury's bid was passed unanimously .