Christchurch Post OfficeYou may remember that at the beginning of April 2016 the town Post Office closed its doors. This was because it was no longer financially viable. The owner had cited problems such as high rents and business rates, and services such as passport and driving licence applications being available online. The last, of course, is an increasing characteristic of modern times. Today, January 16, I ventured on a showery day to Saxon Square to have a look at the location of our new Post Office. While taking the pictures I admit that I was eavesdropping, and it was obvious from the number of people who stopped to look and discuss it that this was to be a very welcome addition to Christchurch. As usual, click the picture for a larger version. After I had finished I had the pleasure of meeting the new Postmaster. His name is Hiren Modi. Credit to the Post Office, they were so concerned about the paucity of applicants for this role that they contacted him, as they knew of his experience of running a Post Office. So he came over one day, he liked what he saw, and all was done and dusted immediately. Click the picture for a 2014 Echo article about his Poole establishment. As well as Post Office functions, it will sell stationery and cards. He is confident that this will be a great addition to Christchurch. Perhaps even more important, it will be viable. Having spoken to him, I share his confidence and enthusiasm, but remember – as with all Post Offices, use it or lose it!
Update, 18 January It’s well under way! Mr Modi was there preparing for the opening on Monday, 5 February. Below you can see one of the counters in progress.
1 February – Action! Although the Post Office was not open today, it was good to see the finishing touches being completed. Mr Modi was there while the men from Post Office were putting up the signage. Unfortunately the wrong struts had been delivered, so there had been a delay with this. Tomorrow it is hoped that the computers will be booted up and connected to the system. That, with configuration, will take a couple of hours. He hopes to try a couple of transactions before, but the aim – to be safe – is for the Post Office to officially open on Monday, 5 February, at 9am. I’ll be there!
5 February – All’s well that ends well! It’s open! 9am, and a cold frosty Monday morning. Well done to Mr Modi and all those who have worked to give Christchurch its Post Office once more!
ConclusionAn article was in last week’s Christchurch Times newspaper (February 15), Unfortunately as I did not know about this opening (Friday 9 February) I was not present. There is a low-resolution photograph of Page 2 below. As the next issue is on sale and it was not published online, their text is now reproduced below the picture. CHRISTCHURCH’S Post Office has been officially opened. MP Sir Chris Chope cut the ribbon of the branch in Saxon Square on Friday. The Post Office in Church Street closed some 21 months ago. Postmaster Hiren Modi already operates branches in Poole and Bournemouth. Sir Chris said, “This is a very special day with the official opening of this great-looking Post Office and store in the town centre.The community is absolutely delighted to have a Post Office in the heart of the shopping centre again.” The branch is now open Monday to Saturday between 9am and 5.30pm. Sarah Cottrell, network operations area manager, said: “We are delighted to be able to restore Post Office services to the centre of Christchurch with a very experienced postmaster. The re-opening of the branch will make it easier for customers to get their cash, send and collect their mail and do their banking. We know how important these services are to local residents. We are confident that this vibrant new-style Post Office at the heart of the local community will meet customer need and will secure services for the future.”
22 June – Bad News It has been reported in The Echo today that the Post Office is closed. The length of the closure, and the reasons for it, are unclear. The article indicates some possibilities. It could be a problem with the computer system. Time will tell. The left-hand sign below reads:
This Post Office branch is temporarily closed.Due to unforeseen circumstances this branch is closed until further notice. As an alternative you may wish to use the Post Office branches listed below. Post Office Motor Vehicle licence issuing branch
- Purewell Cross BH23 3PL – Post Office non MVL Branch
- Stourvale BH23 2AW – Post Office non MVL Branch
- Tuckton BH6 3JX
3 July: Not good news.
Echo article 8 July: People disappointed! On Thursday (July 5), in the Christchurch Times, the back page had more of their interesting interviews. Nine people were asked for their thoughts. I was going to do a fancy chart of those who were disappointed, those who were fine about it, and those who didn’t mind. However, it is pointless. Unsurprisingly everyone was disappointed, angry or upset. Here are four of the comments, two mild, two angry, all disappointed:
- I never had any problems using the Post Office since it opened a couple of months ago. It was easy to use and everyone was really nice.
- I think it is disgraceful. No one can hold the Post Office to account, and it is so difficult for the people running it to make money.
- We need a Post Office in the town centre. All the stuff in there were very friendly. Hopefully it will be back soon.
- It is terrible for the Post Office to be closed. It had not been open for long. It is an absolute disgrace.
30 July A little news, but no new hope! Just some helpful advice about undelivered parcels!
2 August Fairly detailed article in The Echo about this – and two others of Mr Modi!
20 August Surprise, surprise! The Post Office reopens. Read The Echo Here is what the Post Office said about it: We are pleased to announce that we have been able to restore a Post Office in central Christchurch, which had been temporarily closed due to operational reasons. The branch reopened on August 17 at its previous location. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure.
23 August Today there was another of the well-known interviews in the Christchurch Times, where nine members of the public are asked their opinions. Here are three of them – to read the rest you will have to buy a copy of the paper. It’s been here, then gone again – but it is important for the town. The whole community uses the Post Office. People specifically come into town to use it. It is not just the older people who want the Post Office to stay here. I do a lot of selling on eBay so I need somewhere to be able to go and actually physically post parcels. Let’s face it, this is a retirement town, so we must have a Post Office. We need a Post Office a lot more than the hundreds of coffee shops going up everywhere.
Before Christmas a Post Office had opened in Highcliffe, in Occasions Card Shop. Open six days a week, it is proving very popular.
18 March 2018
Surprise, Surprise – Deep SnowIt was quite a surprise this morning to wake up to a beautiful covering of snow. In our little microclimate here it is quite unusual. Here are some pictures for evidence. As usual, click to see the gallery and get a full-size version.
A35 Pine TreesThere have been a lot of new homes built by Hoburne Developments on the Hoburne Farm Estate, adjacent to the A35 just as it leaves Hampshire and enters Dorset.
On May 10, 2018, an item was published on the local NextDoor blog: Do local folk realise that Hoburne have applied for permission to take down all the pine trees that line the A35 along the back of their newly built properties on Hoburne Farm Estate? New residents are objecting to pine needles in their gardens and lack of light! Those trees all have preservation orders on them, they screen the traffic noise and help cut air pollution. There is a growing band of objectors to this scheme and if you would like to join them, please write to the tree officer at Christchurch Council and lobby your local councillors and MP.
Then, on 11 May, an article was in the Bournemouth Echo. Here is a summary of the points made:
- The trees are mainly Monterey pines, with some cypress, oak and hawthorn.
- The idea is to incorporate the land within the new homes’ gardens.
- Consultants – Treecall – have produced recommendations.
- The aim is to chop down 62 of the pine trees, as they are coming to the end of their lives and will be high-maintenance. 16 trees will be retained.
- 56 other trees will be planted, mainly hawthorn, hazel and rowan.
- These ‘replacement’ trees are smaller than the pines. However, there will be some tall ones and other ‘understorey’ species.
- This is what Andrew Cleaves, the consultant said: ‘There is no avoiding the fact that the loss to amenity from the removal of the Monterey pines will be significant in the short term. However, the long-term benefits to amenity, canopy cover and wildlife resulting from the proposed felling and replacement planting outweigh this short-term loss and cannot be achieved with a continued ad-hoc approach to management of the trees.’
31 May – An Article in the Christchurch Times This appeared on the back page, and as frequently happens, there was a short survey. Nine Christchurch people were asked their opinion. All were against the removal of these trees, though some thought it might be acceptable if absolutely necessary. Here are three of the comments from slightly different viewpoints. I’m afraid you’ll have to get the newspaper to see the rest!
- ‘We are losing too many trees at the moment. It would be a real shame to lose those trees as well.’
- ‘If there is no reason or them to be doing it then I’m 100% against it. To an extent it is acceptable because they are replanting.’
- ‘I like the sight of the trees along that stretch of road and I would not like to see them taken down for no good reason.’
7 September Appeal going forward to get the trees cut down. Nothing we can do!
19 September If something doesn’t work try something different. Well, it didn’t work! Echo report
28 September According to the Christchurch Times, 27 September, the plan to change the use of the land to residential gardens was rejected. The application was premature because of the tree-felling appeal. This is what the planning officer, Kim Bowditch, said in her report: ‘The Council considers that the line of trees makes a valuable contribution to the landscape and are a significant landscape asset the integrity of which should be managed and maintained as a whole in the best interests of their long-term retention so that they continue to provide such contribution. ‘Dividing the ownership of the line of trees into a large number of individual properties will likely substantially increase likely pressure to fell and prune the protected trees and introduce considerable uncertainty to the quality of their maintenance.’ Her report also describes the detrimental effect this would have on the landscape. Note that the result of the appeal about the felling of the trees has not yet been reached.