Story: Ben Kirby
The three main Post Offices in Burngreave and Fir Vale are to remain open, following the announcement of closures across South Yorkshire on 5th August.
Only Grimesthorpe Post Office, on Upwell Street, is listed among the sixteen Post Offices to close in Sheffield. This leaves Ellesmere, Pitsmoor and Fir Vale on the safe list as Post Offices to remain.
Ellesmere postmaster Kamalbir Singh Nandra expressed his relief at the news:
“I am glad we are staying open. Our customers find the facility of the Post Office really useful.”
Grimesthorpe set to close
Grimesthorpe postmaster Michael Yeates spoke about what troubled him most about his Post Office closing:
“Grimesthorpe Post Office has been in the hands of my family for 30 years. I feel so sorry for the customers who have stood by us, I really do. They are the ones who will be affected. Customers without cars will be forced to go to Firth Park or Low Wincobank.
“Our Post Office can’t appeal against it. A petition has been sent round, but I can’t see all these protests making any difference – it’s a national thing.”
Grimesthorpe Post Office is one of 2500 Post Office branches forced to close nationwide, as a result of the Post Office Ltd’s “Network Change Programme”, which started in October 2007.
Serving the community
Concerned, Pitsmoor postmaster Prem Athi emphasized the importance of local Post Offices:
“The Post Office is like a community place. People don’t just get a stamp and go. Some people who don’t see each other meet here and have a chat. All sorts of people will benefit from us staying open; old people especially, because they don’t have to travel far.”
Fir Vale postmaster Mr. Mahmood agreed:
“We serve people from all over the world. Several languages are spoken in this Post Office. This is really important for the community, especially when we are dealing with insurance; people trust us over the bank, because we can communicate with them.
“It’s a shame Grimesthorpe is shutting because people will have to walk further. We would welcome customers from Grimesthorpe if they need any help.”
The Network Change Programme was introduced in response to Government research showing that fewer people are using the Post Office branches.
Mr Yeates spoke of how his branch has been affected by the changing business:
“Two or three years ago we used to sell pension books, but now the money is moved straight into the customer’s bank account. I’d say I lost about 30% of the business through that. We’ve lost a terrific amount of business.”
More than just stamps
Mr. Athi listed some popular services currently available at Pitsmoor Post Office which many might not usually expect to find at a local branch:
“The Post Office Home Phone is quite popular at the moment, which is in competition with BT. Also popular is our foreign currency exchange, motor insurance, saving accounts, E-top ups, gift vouchers, and MoneyGrams.
“People need to use local Post Offices; it’s just that people go out to other areas. The young generation is on the move, so they’re not our base; we don’t know what to do to keep them.”
Feeling positive for the future
Pleased that the three main branches in Burngreave and Fir Vale will remain open, Mr. Nandra added:
“The whole community will benefit from us staying open. We should think about giving more facilities than taking them away; the government should know the public need and demand, rather than making new needs and demands. Hopefully now we will be able to relax and increase the range of services.”
Mr Mahmood agreed:
“When I started at this Post Office three years ago, it was a big investment and I was worried. Now I’m feeling positive about the future. I’m happy that we can continue serving the community. All the customers are really pleased too.”