Westfield could regain Post Office - at the Co-op

Yeovil Express: Matt Charlton, Co-Op store manager; Marie Ainsworth, neighbourhood development officer, South Somerset District Council; Debbie Rose, Co-Op team manager; Cllr Ian Martin, district councillor for Yeovil West ward. Matt Charlton, Co-Op store manager; Marie Ainsworth, neighbourhood development officer, South Somerset District Council; Debbie Rose, Co-Op team manager; Cllr Ian Martin, district councillor for Yeovil West ward.

THE Westfield community in Yeovil looks set to have a new Post Office counter in the area after the Co-op shop recently agreed to install the facility within the shop.

Westfield Post Office on Coronation Avenue closed its doors back in 2009 after its sub-postmaster resigned the position.

The local community were left disappointed but not disheartened and wanted to find a way of resuming the service for the benefit of everyone in and around Westfield.

Councillors and Westfield Community Association contacted officials at the district council in 2010 to ask for some help in the campaign to replace the Post Office.

Marie Ainsworth, neighbourhood officer for South Somerset District Council’s Area South Development Team, said: “When I was contacted to help the community of Westfield I thought it best to take a multi-agency approach, so key members were contacted at the Post Office, within the local community and at the District Council.

"We needed to make sure that the community themselves were still in need of the service a year after its closure, so we jointly carried out a community survey.

"The results were overwhelmingly in favour of having a Post Office in the area with many people finding it difficult to access other Post Offices further afield.”

The Post Office needed a new Sub-postmaster, unfortunately after a long search no one came forward to fill the role.

Existing businesses including the Co-op were asked to consider housing the facility but the timing was never quite right.

By 2011 things were looking bleak, despite lots of hard work from all concerned including Cllr Ian Martin, Westfield Community Association, Matt Walls from P.O Ltd, Marie Ainsworth and David Laws MP. Everyone remained determined to plough on.

However, fresh discussions with The Co-operative proved useful and a slightly alternative Post Office Service was agreed in the form of an ‘Essentials Counter’.

Nearly two years later and with a great deal of hard work collecting evidence and writing letters of support the Co-op have agreed to install a Post Office Counter in their store on Stiby Road, Westfield in February 2014.

Cllr Ian Martin, Ward Member for Yeovil West, said: “The re-introduction of a Post Office on to the Westfield Estate is the result of a classic example of all agencies (SSDC Officers, Local Councillors, David Laws MP and the Westfield Community Association) working together to bring a much needed service back into the community.

"We must also thank PO Counters for their resolve in wishing to keep a Post Office on the Estate and the Co-op for stepping up to the plate and accommodating the new Post Office Local facility within their Stiby Road Store”.

Cllr Tony Fife said: “It’s fantastic news for the community of Westfield, this is a fine example of what can be achieved by working closely with all the agencies, everyone has contributed lots of time and effort to this positive outcome.

"There are sure to be celebrations once the service is up and running.”

Post Office Ltd. will be undertaking a six week consultation on the proposal and once complete will release more details.

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