Behind the covered first floor windows of W H Smith’s Union Street shop, contractors are busy getting things ready for a transfer of postal facilities from the city’s main post office.
That’s due to close on July 4th with a new service – offering six serving counters and five self-service kiosks – opening at the retailer instead.
The Post Office is on record as saying that this closure – and move – is part of the continuing modernisation of its branch network.
“We believe the most effective way to secure the long term viability of Post Office services in Bath is through a carefully selected retail partner, and we are confident that our proposal is the best way of safeguarding services for the community its for years to come.
The vast majority of our 11,600 Post Office branches, are and small, are successfully operated in this way with retail partners and we believe this is the best approach to keeping Post Offices in main shopping locations and at the heart of communities where they play an important role in local economies.”
WHS Smith has been operating Post Offices within its stores since 2007 and currently runs over 130 branches.
Last year city centre councillor Andy Furse came out against the move – regarding it as “another local service being downgraded with local people being given no say in the matter.”
Bath Newseum contacted him for up-to-date comment – now the move is weeks away. He said:
“It is sad that Bath’s dedicated central post office will close soon and relocate to WH Smith’s.
Although involved with the campaign to retain its location, the Post Office management is pressing ahead and the refurbishment in WH Smith’s is now progressing. Probably the capital receipt for the building was too tempting for the PO bosses.
A city that was central to the first postal system is relegated to the equivalent of a postal counter in a corner shop!”
Added to that – l hope the lift at W H Smith does not break down too often. A lot of senior citizens don’t like stairs.
Meanwhile, Bath’s Postal Museum – in the basement of the current post office – is not affected by the move and will stay where it is.
It continues to tell the story of our national postal service and the city’s major role in its development.