Feb 4 2010 By Greg Burns
POST Office bosses have confirmed the closed Chesham site will re-open on February 22 and promised residents that they will never be left without a town centre facility again.
The office, in High Street, shut suddenly on November 13 last year after lease issues with thousands of residents unable to collect benefits, pensions, or simply post mail without travelling all the way to Greenway.
Fury and chaos resulted over the busy Christmas period and the Big Freeze and a public meeting, chaired by the town mayor Justine Fulford at Trinity Baptist Church on Monday (1/2).
Hundreds of residents were joined by MP Cheryl Gillan to grill bosses of the Post Office who had shunned a similar meeting a week before.
Peter Wilkinson, field change adviser for the company, told the meeting that they had no warning of the sudden closure last year and said they had appointed a temporary sub postmaster to open the store for business on February 22.
He said: “We know that the closure of the office has been very difficult for Chesham. We are really pleased that it will be opening again and we have worked hard to make that happen.
“We would have liked to have been in there before this date but there have been many reasons for that.
“I can give assurances to residents that this situation will not be happening again. We will be reviewing our policies and emergency situations in place to make sure of that.”
Mr Wilkinson said that the company could permanently retain the office in High Street or look for other premises in the town centre, including the closed Global Cafe.
A Post Office footfall survey before the sudden closure showed that an average of 3,000 residents used the facility each week.
And angry residents were not impressed that they have had to wait three months for the store to re-open.
One said: “For us to have to go three months without a Post Office beggars belief. I don't think you can underestimate the impact this has had on the people of Chesham and the lack of action has made us feel like dirt.”
Mrs Gillan, whose husband was a senior official minister in charge of the Post Office and whose sister-in-law used to be a sub-postmistress, said this situation can not be repeated.
She said: “The closure has caused great disruption to people and businesses in and around Chesham, particularly over the Christmas period.
“There has been understandable anger about the closure of the Post Office which is the fabric of this town and we need to protect it.
“We now need to use the post office as much as possible to ensure that it remains a jewel in the heart of our town.”