THE relocation of Chester’s main post office into the basement of WH Smith is looking increasingly likely.

A date of June this year has now been set for the move from St John Street to Foregate Street – although bosses maintain it is subject to the outcome of a public consultation.

Residents are being encouraged to make their views known and have until March 13 to do so. The consultation began on January 30.

MP Chris Matheson remains opposed to the proposal. He told The Standard: "I still oppose the closure of Chester's Crown Post Office. I have made my position clear to Post Office Ltd about this, and I will do so again as part of this consultation. I would encourage all Chester residents to do the same.

"Not only is this about protecting services for local people, it is about ease of access, it is about jobs, and it is about the impact on our high street."

However, details of the planned move reveal that the new branch, run by WH Smith, would actually have improved opening hours.

The existing premises opens from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday but shuts at 4pm on Saturday and is closed on Sundays.

If the move goes ahead it will stay open until 5.30pm on Saturday and between 11am and 3pm on Sundays.

Bosses say the majority of services would remain the same, although there would be no cash machine. There would be four serving positions and two self-serve kiosks, and access would be via stairs, escalator or lift.

Chester and District Standard:

WH Smith on Forgate Street could be the new home of the city's main post office.

WH Smith is located 65 metres up the road from the existing post office on St John Street.

Explaining the planned move, Post Office network and sales director Roger Gale said: “We’re continuing to respond to unprecedented change on high streets and in consumer trends.

“By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter as much tomorrow as they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays.”

He added: “The vast majority of the Post Office’s network of 11,500 Post Office branches, large and small, are run on a franchise or agency basis with retailers as part of thriving businesses. It makes sense to further expand this successful, sustainable way of providing Post Office services to customers.”

However, the Communication Workers Union is far from happy with the plans, describing WH Smith as a “second-rate employer”.

A spokesman said: “We believe that franchising is simply privatisation by the backdoor and we seriously oppose this move.

“At a time when the government is claiming to be on the side of workers, it is an outrage that it is allowing well rewarded jobs to go from a public service, handing them straight to a second-rate employer like WHSmith – recently rated as the worst retailer on the high street who will undoubtedly provide a significantly inferior service.”

* To comment on the plans visit and enter 009614 in the search bar to quickly find the Chester consultation. Alternatively call 03452 660115, email or send comments in the post to ‘FREEPOST Your Comments’ (this is the full address needed, according to Post Office Ltd).