Saffron Walden Post Office closure leaves pensioners in the cold

Saffron Walden Post Office on High Street will reopen five days earlier than expected following its

Saffron Walden Post Office on High Street will reopen five days earlier than expected following its refurbishment. - Credit: Archant

The closure of the town’s only post office for more than two weeks next month is causing serious concerns about how the elderly will collect their pensions.

As part of a nationwide modernisation drive the High Street store in Saffron Walden will be closed for refurbishment between January 10 and 27, promising extended opening hours and an improved retail service when it reopens.

But the lack of information given to the public, as well as the uncertainty about how the elderly will get to the nearest post offices in Newport, Ashdon and Thaxted – especially those with limited mobility and with no access to cars – has provoked criticism from across the town.

“It’s not viable in a rural area with expensive, limited, public transport,” said Kate Robson, manager at Uttlesford Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), who has already written to the Post Office to express the Bureau’s concern on the situation.

“We suggested that they look at a mobile alternative, perhaps in the town square or even where the old post office is.

“I am sure that they can come up with a creative alternative, which doesn’t rely on people having to travel out of town.”

The closure was brought to the Reporter’s attention at a Town Council meeting last Thursday, with the councillors having just received letters on the matter.

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Town councillor Doug Perry used to pay out pensions for the Post Office before he became a police officer. He said: “To expect pensioners to go to Thaxted or Ashdon is completely out of order and they should have considered other arrangements, such as paying them up front or into their bank accounts.

“It’s badly thought out, especially as it’s coinciding with the culvert works and Waitrose expansion.”

A Post Office spokesman said the “extensive refurbishment” to modernise Saffron Walden Post Office “will provide people in the area with a new, modern service with significantly extended opening hours”.

He added: “Works will take just over two weeks in January, and we would like to apologise to any customers inconvenienced during that time.

“The teams at Newport Post Office, Debden Post Office and Ashdon Post Office will be happy to help customers during the refurbishment of our Saffron Walden branch.”