incorporating the Billericay Action Group
Cllr. Andrew Schrader provided an update regarding the future of the High Street Post Office.
Recently, the Billericay & District Residents’ Association brought to my attention a rumour that the One Stop convenience store in Billericay High Street may be about to close. This, naturally, raised alarm bells with me, as One Stop is also home to our local Post Office. The counter facilities offered at One Stop have become doubly important since so many of the banks vacated the High Street, with residents advised to use the counter service at the Post Office for their day-to-day banking.
Fortunately, we are served by an exceptionally good Economic Development Team at Basildon Council, led by my colleague Councillor Anthony Hedley as Cabinet Member for Business Engagement. I immediately contacted Councillor Hedley and his very proactive Head of Economic Development and asked them to make some enquiries.
They reacted quickly, reaching out to One Stop and the Post Office. The bad news is that One Stop confirmed that they have taken the difficult commercial decision to close their Billericay store, which will necessarily result in the closure of the Post Office branch.
One Stop recently served 12-months’ notice to the Post Office that they were relinquishing their role as a Postmaster, so both the store and the Post Office will be closing in November 2024. They will continue to provide a service until then – unless a replacement Post Office opens before that. So that gives us a year to make alternative arrangements.
There is a Post Office in the Sunnyville Store on Perry Street and at South Green Shops, but I am nonetheless determined to ensure that we retain Post Office services in Billericay High Street. The Council has already spoken to the Post Office. They confirmed that they had been given notice by One Stop and have already had some interest from potential replacements. They will shortly be formally inviting applications on their website. This is, therefore, very promising. Basildon Council is committed to help in any way we can to secure a replacement Postmaster for Billericay High Street.
In the meantime, the Council is also investigating setting up a ‘Banking Hub’ in Billericay to counter the loss of so many high street banks. One was launched in Rochford a year or so ago and appears to have been successful. Our local MP, John Baron, has also written to both the Post Office and Cash Access UK, opening a dialogue, and requesting a cash access review of Billericay.
John Baron is arranging a meeting in the New Year with representatives of all concerned parties to chart a way forward and I will endeavour to keep residents informed of developments. We are all agreed that is essential that arrangements are put in place swiftly to relocate Post Office services in Billericay High Street and I am confident that this provision can be retained.
The survey is now closed.
The results will be analysed to help inform discussions at the Police, Fire and Crime Panel pre-budget meeting on Thursday, 7th December 2023.