Acocks Green Post Office under Threat

October 8th, 2014
Post Office (present) and Spot On sites compared

Check it out! Acocks Green Post Office above. Spot On below. What do YOU think?

Stop Press The petition outside Acocks Green Post Office on Saturday 18 October 2014 collected much interest and 378 signatures in two hours. Update: we now have 438 signatures and rising.

Stop Press 2 The drop-in ‘Consultation’ on the future of Acocks Green P.O. was very interesting, though perhaps it raised more questions than it answered. Here is the report.

Stop Press 3 Post Office representatives attended the Acocks Green Ward Meeting on 29 October 2014. One of the two representatives attending was Richard Lynds. We do not have a picture of the meeting on Wednesday but we think this old newspaper report fromThe Cumberland Newsin 2008 most helpfully provides the general flavour pro (Even though Mr Lynds has possibly changed his hair stylist since then!)

A short time ago The Post Office (The Government body, not the place in Acocks Green!) dropped a bombshell on us: they want to close the government owned Acocks Green Post Office and move the whole operation over to the other side of the Warwick Road, to what is now ‘Spot On’, between Iceland and Hugh’s Fruits. If you would like to see this already infamous letter then check out letter announcing proposed move of Acocks Green Post Office here

The new ‘Post Office’ would open in January. It would be owned not by the Government, but by an organisation called ZCO, which is based in Bolton. It would provide two fewer serving outlets and the extra space in the shop would be taken up with sweets, cigarettes, newspapers and what they slightly oddly call ‘shopping’, but a range of general supermarket type basics, we assume.

A lot of people are already very unhappy about this. Why? Well take a look at the two pictures above. What do you notice about the two pavement areas? What do you notice about shelter in the rain? People often queue outside the Post Office. Not only is the pavement area at Spot On quite narrow, but after the new Smart Route is finished (Works starts on Monday 27 October, 2014) in front of Spot On there will also be a bus stop and an area for taxis. There will be a small build out, but not very big. Notice also the side of Spot On, next to Hugh’s. That’s right. There is an alleyway to the back with cars and lorries coming in and out. How would you like to stand there on a busy day, jostled all round, no shelter if it rains, a busy road and buses and taxis in front and vehicles at the side? We have been promised earlier starting, at 7 am, but that pavement is still going to be very busy (And will the early start last?) Factor in pensioners and the sick and disabled collecting their money and parents with young children … Inside it is likely to be overcrowded too.

It gets worse. If this replacement P.O. should close there is legally no obligation upon anyone to do anything about it at all. We could be left without a main P.O. in Acocks Green Village. We think this could happen. Why? This is what the Post Office organisation say in their letter about ZCO

What The Post Office organisation letter says about ZCO

What The Post Office organisation letter says about ZCO

Hmm, sounds pretty good? Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum had nasty suspicious minds and did some digging, then we (also having nasty suspicious minds) did some more. This is what we found:

  • ZCO appears to be owned by one individual who lives in Bolton.
  • ZCO has only been registered as a company since 12 May 2014. This is according to the very trustworthy Companies House, Government owned website.

ZCO Ltd - Companies House Entry - Screenshot

  • It would appear that the individual has been director of two other companies and company secretary of one. One of these companies appears to have gone bankrupt.
  • One of the most disastrous of the business ventures involved a company called AA Postal Services
  • one piece of datawe found suggested that all of the individual’s assets together are currently worth £0.00. (This is a private website, but the information on it seems to tally closely with that on Companies House, which is a Government run website, and we were led from here to the Companies House data on the unhappy history of AA Postal Services.)

Hmm … Sutton Coldfield and Kings Heath P.O.s are also about to become franchises – run by W. H. Smith’s.

So Acocks Green Post Office is about to become an overcrowded shoddy outfit with an unsafe frontage and may go under? Well that’s just great. (Not.) What can I do though?

All is not lost yet. The Post Office has by law to carry out a Public Consultation. Remember, remember the 5th of November. This is when the Consultation closes. (Let’s make sure there are fireworks!) Meantime, you can write to the Post Office yourself at comments@postoffice.co.uk orcomplete this on-line Post Office Questionnaire about Acocks Green PO

Sign the Petition - image

The petition will be next at Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum Public meeting, see below. The collected petition will be presented in The House of Commons by local MP John Hemming (Yardley). If you would like to help petition, or hand out leaflets as well, please do drop us a line on our ‘Contact Us’ link on the right here, or respond to this post to get in touch.

So who is backing this campaign locally?

In alphabetical order, and so far:

  • Acocks Green Focus Group
  • Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum
  • Fox Green Neighbourhood Forum
  • John Hemming, MP for Yardley Constituency (Lib-Dem) update: John signed our community objection letter 11.10.14
  • John O’Shea (Acocks Green Ward Councillor, Labour)*
  • Roger Harmer (Acocks Green Ward Councillor, Lib-Dem)
  • Stewart Stacey (Acocks Green Ward Councillor (Labour)*
* The two Labor councillors are running their own petition with different wording.

In other words this a coming from local community groups and local politicians.

We’ve lost the tree – sorry, we needed the political support on that one, and we didn’t get it. This time we have the political support, so let’s keep going!

 

6 Responses to “Acocks Green Post Office under Threat”

  1. Claire roberts says:

    This is disgusting, not good news at all, the post office is needed in acocks green and should be kept at the current location, I don’t trust it being run by this new company, this is very worrying, please help save and secure the post office services future for years to come.

  2. Rachel Evans says:

    Please do not move the post office.

  3. […] More details on all these points are available at the Acocks Green Focus Group’s website here. […]

  4. sara johnstone says:

    what an insult to the people of acocks green to try & put one over on us
    with this shoddy & doomed plan of moving to cheap,congested premises run by a bankrupt charlatan,with a bad business record.we shall make our feelings& thourghts clear at the consultation 22 nd oct.

  5. Peter Travis says:

    One reason to be concerned about the plans for our post office. I suppose this is what happens when you hand everything over to the private sector: http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/11575019.SPECIAL_REPORT__Weymouth_post_office_closure_shock/

    • Julia says:

      Thanks for this Peter. Well spotted. In a way this seems to say it all. This newly fitted-out franchised post office in Dorset has – just – was closed because the rent was not paid. The people who want to take over our the Acocks Green P.O. as a franchise are adding much higher rent and rates into the equation for the premises they want to take over. This, at a time when the local P.O. is massively losing money, hence the franchise proposal in the first place. Whilst it is true that they are looking for a convenience store partner: firstly they have admitted they have not yet found one; secondly this is a big space to fill with convenience store goods (and a lot of competition for sale of similar goods all around) and a slightly odd location for a convenience store, in the middle of a busy high street, as well.

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