Ottery Town Council recently ran an online poll to gather opinions from the community about the Town’s Post Office and Banking Services. Over 40 people contributed, and we gathered some interesting information.
Almost 60% of those who responded thought that the Post Office facilities had provided a positive experience and 30% said it had improved over the previous month. One worrying aspect is that 30% of people are waiting 10 minutes or more to be served. The average wait time was approximately 5-6 minutes.
The Post Office services are certainly in demand with over 40% of people indicating they use it weekly, and 70% saying they visit each month. Visitors do seem to be happy with the staff as 50% said their visit had been handled extremely well. But there was still 21% who indicated they were not happy with the service they got.
The comments we got typically were about availability of trained staff resulting in the Post Office facilities not always being available and the uncertainty before visiting if it will be a wasted journey.
One person summed it up by saying “The counter has not been open when it should have been. Meaning that I have had to make repeated special visits to the shop to gain access to the services. I dread to think what it’s going to be like coming up to the Christmas period. One counter is too small for the size of Ottery.”
There were also issues with access and privacy “Ottery St Mary one stop is not easily accessible. I walk with a stick, and it is completely the wrong end of town for me, and close parking is limited. The pavement is too narrow and there is nowhere for other pedestrians to stand over without stepping out into the road. The post office counter at the front of the shop is not private and often manned only by someone also working on the tills.”
The survey also touched on ATM provision in the town. It seems the Sainsburys ATM is the most popular with 90% of the 40 respondents using it. Despite moving to a cashless society, it seems 30% of people use the ATM at least once a week, with only 15% saying they never take out cash.
Although 45% of people said they usually get cash when they need it there was anecdotal evidence that often none of the machines are working. After the recent Tar Barrels event on Saturday 4th of November none of the machines had cash and it took until Tuesday before cash was available again from all of them.
There seems a high demand from residents to have a banking hub. A typical comment was “No bank presence is ridiculous in a town with growing population & quite an elderly demographic who can only use unreliable public transport. The needs of the population are not being met in any way, shape or form.”
Ottery and East Devon District Council Cllr Vicky Johns is continuing to liaise with LINK regarding the possibility of opening a banking hub in the town. She said “The poll is encouraging showing the Post Office improving, but there still needs work to be done on training, access and availability of services. It is concerning that One Stop taking the commercial decision not to provide pre-payment for British Gas which causes residents to go out of town.”
She added “I will continue my efforts to get LINK to provide a banking hub for Ottery as there is obvious demand from residents to continue having banking facilities locally in town”.