From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 27
November - December 1983
Why Old Lenton Lost Its Post Office
The Post Office were given instructions by the Government that they should try and find ways to reduce their running costs. The reverberations of that request have now reached Lenton, with the closure of Old Lenton's Post Office on Abbey Street.
The area in and around Lenton has long looked a prime target for any local cost cutting exercise. The question then no doubt became which one should be the sacrificial lamb - Hillside's, New Lenton's, Old Lenton's, Dunkirk's or Castle Boulevard's? The choice must have been made so much easier when the sub postmaster at Old Lenton, Colin Brett, decided to hand in his resignation in order to move to another sub post office in his native Leicestershire. The Post Office circulated local councillors and certain other interested parties to tell them of their intention and ask for comments. Those who actually used it were not yet privy to these deliberations. The first to find out were committee members of Old Lenton Residents' Association, who through the efforts of their Honorary Secretary, Mrs Glenys Randle, began a campaign to try and persuade Nottingham's Head Postmaster to change his mind. Z.F. Gears' Company Secretary was also active, canvassing local businessmen to back the protest. There were a number of distinct issues raised in the campaign to prevent the closure. These we outline below with the Post Office's considered response.
In urban areas the Post Office now has a policy to try and space out post office facilities so that there is at least one mile between them. When the Abbey Street business closed, the Post Office could point to the fact that residents in the Old Lenton area need travel no more than half a mile to reach another post office.
Representations were made to the effect that Old Lenton contained a large number of elderly persons, a proportion of whom would find it difficult to collect their pensions etc. from the remaining post offices. While the Head Postmaster accepted this point, he suggested that as there were relatively few shops in the area, residents must travel elsewhere for the majority of their shopping and at such time could use other post offices. Those senior citizens less mobile than the average could always arrange for a friend to collect their pension. Concern was expressed that the remaining local offices might not be able to cope satisfactorily with the additional business that would come their way following the closure of the Abbey Street office. The Head Postmaster stated that the New Lenton sub-postmaster had plans to take on another counter assistant if the extra business proved substantial and at Dunkirk alterations had been carried out to provide better counter facilities. The Hillside office, he felt, was less busy than these other two, and could absorb more work. The Head Postmaster hoped these arrangements would ensure a continued good local service, though he admitted nothing would prevent the customary Tuesday and Thursday pre-opening queues, which are common at all offices.
Many local businesses in the locality including those on Lenton Industrial Estate registered objections to the closure. In a surprisingly large number of instances, firms said they preferred to use the Abbey Street business rather than sub-post offices closer to hand. They remarked on its good record of safety, its fast service, parking facilities and the goodwill of the Postmaster, who even allowed a number of firms to bank their takings after hours when circumstances demanded. Many of the firms have now been briefed by a Post Office representative on collection services. If they didn't qualify, in volume terms, for a free collection, the Post Office would arrange for mail to be collected upon payment of a daily charge. Where firms had previously used Girobank facilities to deposit large sums of money at the Abbey Street premises, the Post Office were happy to try and make alternative arrangements that would satisfy those firms' need for security. The Post Office felt confident that almost all the problems created for these firms by the closure of this office could be solved without too much difficulty.
The Abbey Street post office was due to close at the end of September and notices to that effect were 'posted' on the premises. At the eleventh hour an extension was granted by the Post Office while they allowed extra time for the City Council and others to make further representations to them. The Head Postmaster remained unswayed and the Abbey Street office was closed this October. On behalf of the Old Lenton Residents' Association, Mrs Randle even appealed to Mrs Thatcher to aid their cause. But the eventual answer via the Department of Trade and Industry was that the opening and closure of specific sub-post offices fell within the ambit of the Post Office, under the provisions contained in the Post Office Act 1969, and the Government could not intervene. Everyone had done their best to prevent the post office's closure, but it appears that in this instance, that best could not prove good enough