February saw the Post Office announce that it was to open a new ‘main’ style branch in the lower floor of Robert Dyas at 393 Strand, and it was my pleasure to cut the ribbon, along with our local St James’s councillors and former Dragon’s Den star, Theo Paphitis, on what I know will be an invaluable service to local people and businesses. It was great to take a break from the madness of Brexit to meet the staff and be shown around all the services this modern, inviting branch had to offer.
The closure of the William IV Street branch just before Christmas was the source of great consternation for many local people who contacted me to express their concern at the loss of a much-used amenity. I met with Post Office officials in 2017 to discuss the then-potential closure and explore viable options for the branch moving forward, at the same time making clear just how important the services it provided were to community.
Having been in close contact with the Post Office and Council colleagues ever since, there was a clear acceptance of just how essential this branch was to the area and a strong commitment to restoring services to the vicinity on a long-term basis, as soon as possible. Naturally, the announcement that a new branch with many of the same service was to open such a short distance away was very good news for everyone concerned.
My thanks to all those who contacted me to express their views and also to my Council colleagues and the Post Office representatives who were always willing to listen to the concerns I raised with them. Matters such as these can be tricky to resolve which is why I am particularly grateful that all parties have been able to come together to put local residents' and businesses' needs first.