Post offices could offer additional services to put them at the heart of the community
An initiative has been launched to put post offices at the heart of the community, at the same time as Fleet Post Office is to undergo a modernising refurbishment and get longer opening hours.
People living in Hart will be asked to submit their ideas as part of a competition to benefit community and small businesses.
The Department for Communities and Local Government originally launched the competition on July 18 but Hart District Council has now adopted the scheme to support post offices in Yateley, Blackwater, Eversley, Hartley Wintney, Crondall, Odiham, Hook and Fleet.
The competition aims to further strengthen the post office’s role as a community hub and encourage sub-postmasters to work with people in the area to develop innovative ideas for how post office branches can support their communities by the way of additional services or facilities.
A total of £200,000 is available to support up to 20 post office schemes across England as part of the government initiative, with successful applicants competing for up to £10,000 to put their idea into action.
The support could include classes in key skills such as languages or the internet, mentoring and advice service for local businesses, display space for local producers or funding for meeting spaces for community groups involved in public issues like neighbourhood planning.
Councillor Ken Crookes, leader of Hart District Council, said it was an "exciting competition", adding: “Residents have the opportunity to work with their local post office and to submit ideas that can start a discussion which could benefit the whole community."
Communities minister Don Foster said: “Post offices, just like pubs and local shops, are often at the heart of communities and I want to give them an even bigger role in bringing people together."
Meanwhile the Post Office in the Martin McColl store at 229 Fleet Road, Fleet, will close temporarily for 11 days between September 19 and 30 for renovations, although the convenience store will remain open.
The new open-plan layout will include two counters, two screened positions and a Post Office serving point at the retail counter.
The two open-plan counters aim improve communication for faster services and make more efficient use of space.
Upon reopening, trading hours will increase by 28.5 hours a week. The new opening times will be from 6am until 5.30pn Monday Saturday and 6am to 1pm on Sunday.
Post Office regional network manager, Will Russell, said: “The modernisation is part of a major investment programme to convert the Post Office network to new-style branches. This investment, the largest in the history of the Post Office, makes a commitment to no more branch closures.”
Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have consulted the public and that the proposed scheme has support from the community.
The deadline for applications closes on October 18. For more information about the competition, visit www.postoffice.co.uk.
During the Fleet Road branch refurbishment other Post Offices available in the area include Crookham Camp Post Office, in Northfield Road, and Ancells Farm Post Office, in Falkners Close.