Rishi Sunak has been given assurances about the quality of access arrangements should proposals to transfer Northallerton’s Post Office to the nearby branch of WH Smith go ahead.
The Post Office announced last month that it had agreed in principle to transfer counter services from the building at the southern end of the High Street to WHSmith’s store.
The MP wrote to the Post Office expressing concern about the plan because of the cramped nature of the current WHSmith premises.
In his letter, Mr Sunak said the store was cramped, cluttered, poorly-lit in places and he expressed his concern that those with impaired mobility might struggle to access the re-located services.
He also urged the Post Office to improve the hours the counter services were available by mirroring the opening hours of the store. This would mean Post Office services being available on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. The current Post Office closes for the weekend at 12.30pm on Saturday.
In its response, the Post Office says it would work to stringent access standards. These would mean widened aisles, low-level counters and PIN pads, hearing loops and customer seating.
A six-week public consultation would be held which would consider issues such as access for vulnerable consumers.
The Post Office says it will provide details of the proposed operating hours as well as the precise location of the Post Office counters in the store should it decide to got ahead with the consultation.
Mr Sunak said: “The current layout of the WHSmith store is difficult to navigate so I would want to see a more inviting layout that was truly accessible should this proposal move to the public consultation phase.
“I will continue to press the Post Office and, if necessary, WHSmith to ensure that the transfer of services at least brings some benefits in the form of longer opening hours.”
The Royal Mail delivery office to the rear of the present Post Office premises is unaffected by the proposal.