25 MAR 2017

Protecting Rural Services

Helen Grant MP has expressed her concern about the proposal to relocate the Post Office branch in Staplehurst and is calling on local people to make their voices heard.

The Post Office have announced plans to move the Staplehurst branch from its current position in the High Street to Station Road at the far end of the village. Local people are worried about the impact this could have upon residents who may not be able to manage the 1.5 mile round trip to the proposed new location. It is also felt that the move would have a detrimental impact upon the health and prosperity of the village, particularly in light of other notable removals such as the closure of NatWest bank and the decision by Sainsbury's to abandon their plans for a petrol station.

Maidstone and the Weald MP Mrs Grant has held discussions with representatives from The Post Office Ltd and raised the core issue of dislocation. They explained that there will be a six week period of consultation before any final decision is made and the Post Office have vowed to consider any views expressed by local people. Helen is therefore calling for all local residents, with an interest in the matter, to contribute to the consultation and to think innovatively about potential solutions. The answer could perhaps be a community owned or managed facility, which will protect this service for the village.

Speaking of the consultation, the MP said: 'Whilst I appreciate the need to modernise and improve the service offered by the Post Office, I am concerned about the impact this decision will have on both residents of Staplehurst and the commercial viability of the village centre. First it was the petrol station, then the bank, now it's the post office, what will be next? There is a real danger that the spirit of our much loved villages, like Staplehurst, is being eroded and this is all while the housing in the area is growing. I would therefore urge local people to engage with the Post Office and ensure their views are heard.'

The consultation can be accessed by clicking here. The consultation closes on 28th April with any changes due to take effect from the summer of this year.

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