Councillors’ stamp of approval to push to re-open post box

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Residents were unable to send letter in the Brockenhurst post box after it was blocked up

THE stamp of approval was given by Brockenhurst parish councillors to lobbying the Royal Mail and an MP to reinstate the village’s sole central post box.

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There was outrage in early December when it emerged the post box in Brookley Road had been sealed up and painted black without notice, and the parish council lodged an official complaint.

It had been close to the village’s former post office – which shut in August. There is concern for less mobile residents because some of the other post boxes scattered around Brockenhurst are in remote areas away from the centre.

The nearest is at Station Approach, over 400 metres away.

At the latest parish meeting members heard that Royal Mail investigated its complaint but said  its decision was made for “determinate commercial reasons”.

Chairman Cllr Pete Wales said he had learnt Royal Mail was conducting an internal consultation not open to members of the public on whether it should return the box.

Until that is finished it cannot comment on the situation and no date has been given as to when that consultation will end.

Brockenhurst Post Box

In response, members were unanimous in their views. There should be a central post box, especially given the village does not currently have a post office, they said, vowing to lobby the Royal Mail and New Forest East MP Julian Lewis until one returned.

They said there may be issues trying to restate the post box as they needed the landowner’s permission, adding they would prefer to have a non-movable brick post box, constructed, although they did not say how that would be funded.

Intriguingly Cllr Wales said he was aware of developments in behind-closed-doors discussions about bringing back a post office in some form to the village – but he would not elaborate.

Cllr Michael Croker noted whatever happened there would be a period when the village lacked a post office or post box, so suggested a map of the various boxes be put up.

Members reported how they had been hampered sending mail because of the closure.

Cllr Michael Harris said he had to go elsewhere as he posted A4 mail which did not fit in the rural boxes, Cllr Richard Wolstenholme claimed the mud and flooding around one made it unusable, and Cllr Maureen Holding reported queues of “20 to 30 minutes long” at Sway Post Office.

Cllr John Wingham pointed out he had to drive more than a mile to get to the nearest box to him, which harmed the Royal Mail’s “green credentials”.

Cllr Harris added: “I have written to Julian Lewis about this issue about having a post box in the village centre, and in the short-term he is going to  lobby for a new post box.”

Members agreed the anger and frustration in the village had been “substantial”, with Cllr Holding suggesting it was “even more controversial than the loss of the post office itself” and Cllr Wingham calling it “a dreadful situation we find ourselves in”.

Brockenhurst Post Office shut in August and has not reopened since or relocated

Cllr Rosamund Bowles added: “We have a very high percentage of older people living in this village who cannot physically go to places outside of the village centre.

“It’s iniquitous for Royal Mail to have done this at all.”

Members unanimously voted to lobby Royal Mail and noted the support of Dr Lewis.

As reported in the A&T, the village’s post office shut when postmistress Elizabeth Kernaghan stepped down after just a year in the role.

Julia Lobley, who has owned the premises since 1995, said she would welcome somebody interested in continuing with a post office but nothing had yet come to fruition.

The Post Office has said it is “working hard” to restore the service to the village.

It added any retailer or small business owner interested in running the post office and incorporating it into their business should email ND.enquiries@postoffice.co.uk or 0333 345 5560, then select option two, or visit runapostoffice.co.uk to view details of the vacancy.

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