THE entire "previously-loyal and long serving Post Office staff at Northallerton" have now left the business amid huge problems and protests over empty promises, it has emerged.

Northallerton Town Council is calling for immediate steps to sort out the issues, which have resulted in huge queues, sudden closures and changes to opening hours at the High Street branch.

In response to a story in last week's edition of the D&S Times detailing a meeting due to take place today between MP Rishi Sunak and senior officials of the Post Office and WH Smith to put an end to the problems, the town council issued a statement welcoming the news, but reminding customers how the situation arose.

The statement said: "Prior to its move to the WH Smith store in 2019, Northallerton’s Post Office was generally considered to offer a high level of service to both residents and businesses in the town and wider area. Whilst some local concerns were expressed, WH Smith gave assurances the level of service would not be affected and, indeed, opening hours would be extended to cover Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

"By September 2021, with the post offices at Romanby, Brompton and the north end of Northallerton closed, along with a number of bank branches, Northallerton High Street was the only option for post office or banking services, and yet the service had deteriorated significantly, with frequent closures at short notice.

 

The former Post Office on Northallerton High Street Picture: Richard Doughty Photography

The former Post Office on Northallerton High Street Picture: Richard Doughty Photography

 

"As a direct result of the impact of the poor service and through local pressure Mr Sunak wrote to WH Smith expressing his concern and received further assurances the problems were short term and would be resolved.

"However, based on recent experiences, it is clear the assurances were empty promises and the provision of post office services in Northallerton, and the wider area have deteriorated even further.

"One aspect which was not highlighted in the article is that the entire previously-loyal and long serving Post Office staff have now left the business. For this to have occurred over a relatively short period of time, must surely be the main factor in the deterioration of service and suggests there are underlying issues which need to be addressed.

"Northallerton is the County Town of North Yorkshire serving a large population and a growing economy. It deserves and requires a fully functioning post office which has not been provided for over two years now. The continued closure of High Street banks places additional demands on what should already be a top quality service.

"This situation cannot be allowed to continue and WH Smith, and by association the Post Office, need to be made fully aware of the depth of feeling within Northallerton and ensure that measures are immediately put in place to deliver the level of service promised at the outset. Anything less is unacceptable."

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Representatives from Post Office and WHSmith are meeting Rishi Sunak MP on Friday to provide an update on steps taken to address staffing issues at the branch.

“Regarding Romanby, there is a temporary hosted site operated by Middleton St George, available for customers on a Monday from 12.30pm-3.30pm. We do appreciate that this limited service is not suitable as a long-term option for a community the size of Romanby and we continue to try and source a permanent fixed service for the community.”

It operates from St James Church Hall, on Ainderby Road.