THE Post Office did not receive a copy of the Wokingham Labour Party’s petition opposing the relocation of its service in the town centre.

This comes despite the Party claiming it presented the list to Post Office representatives at a public consultation event in February, who then declined to take a copy.

Wokingham’s Post Office will move from its current location Broad Street to WHSmith at Market Place following the consultation, meaning the new store will open on Thursday, June 6.

Labour’s petition amassed more than 5,000 signatures from residents upset about the plans but the Post Office confirmed it did not receive a copy of the list.

In a statement, a Post Office spokesperson said: “While we are aware of the petition regarding Wokingham Post Office, we have not received a copy of this petition.

“We understand customers will have concerns about changes taking place at Wokingham Post Office, and we believe that the six-week public consultation which ended on 27th February, has allowed us to review all feedback from customers, including the objections raised in the petition.

“When it comes to consultations about proposed changes to Post Offices, it’s not about the quantity of feedback we receive, it’s about the specific issues that are raised and whether these will have a genuine impact on our customers and the community when using their future Post Office service. In Wokingham, we believe that the decision to partner with WHSmith is the right one in order to sustain Post Office services for the community – not just today, but for the long term too.”

The News contacted the Labour Party for comment regarding their version of events, and in response, Labour councillor Andy Croy said: “Cllr Rachel Burgess and I met with a Post Office manager at the public consultation in Rose Street in February.

“In our discussion, we explained how strongly many Wokingham people felt that the Crown Post Office should stay in its current historic location in the heart of Wokingham.

“As part of our discussion, we put the petition on the table, in front of the manager, and said “Here is the petition. Do you want a copy?”. The manager was impressed by the numbers who had signed and the strength of opposition. She made a note about the petition in her notebook. She declined our offer of a copy of the petition.

“At this point, the petition was, and is live. It was still gathering signatures and was not complete.

“From the outset, and the Post Office statement has confirmed, the Post Office was never going to listen to the people of Wokingham. The Post Office remains a state-owned company and it will require a political decision at the ministerial level to save our Crown Post Office. “This is why we have been pressing John Redwood to secure a meeting with the Minister for Postal Services and have her grant a reprieve.

“Labour’s campaign has successfully mobilised the opinion of thousands of Wokingham residents who are opposed to the closure.

“I am delighted to see that John Redwood has been using the strength of feeling evidenced by the petition in his letters to the Post Office. It now remains for him to do the same in his meeting with the minister. She, at least, may have regard for the strength of local feeling.”

The Wokingham Liberal Democrat group initially raised concerns about the Post Office receiving the petition after highlighting how a postal service in Kendal, Cumbria was saved when Tim Farron MP presented a list of 4,000 signatures to the body.

Lib Dem councillor Clive Jones said: “I wanted to know the value that the Post Office had put on this petition. Bearing in mind the Wokingham one had more signatures but hadn’t been successful in changing the Post Office’s mind.

“I was told by Senior Post office managers that the petition had not been received by anyone at the Post Office. This begs the question, what has happened to it. Who was it given to, or is it still in the Labour Party office?”

Fellow Lib Dem councillor Imogen Shepherd-Dubey sad: “It appears that the petition has not been taken into consideration in determining whether the Wokingham Post Office should be relocated or not. 5000 people who signed this petition have been seriously let down by the Wokingham Labour Party”.

Conservative councillor Pauline Jorgensen said: “It’s a shame that it looks like they have let down the residents who signed the post office petition by neglecting to submit it to the Post Office who were consulting on their proposals for change in time for the deadline.”

But Labour councillors have hit back at their counterparts from across the chamber. 

Cllr Croy added: "Three councillors who have not lifted a finger between them to save Wokingham's Crown Post Office will not be giving lessons to Wokingham Labour. 

"We are the only ones to have stood up for residents on this issue and I am saddened, but not surprised,  that their main contribution is to attack us, rather than stand up for residents. Still, there are elections next week and I guess they are trying to appear relevant.

"From the outset, we have been clear. The Post Office consultation was a sham, it was always going to be a sham and it was a sham as their comments on the irrelevance of the quantity of responses proves.

"Amazingly, these councillors have still not managed to understand the consultation was a sham, a con... 

"Residents will be astonished that these Councillors place any faith in the consultation process when the PO themselves have said they would not listen to residents views on closure.

"We have also been clear that Wokingham's Crown Post Office can only be saved by political intervention. 

"The Post Office remains a state-owned company. As we have said from the start, John Redwood MP needs to meet with the Minister and have her reverse the decision. I understand this meeting is yet to happen.

"If he is unable to persuade her to intervene then the next stop will be 10 Downing Street. That is the proper place for this petition, not the fake PO consultation. 

"In the meantime, the petition is still live and I invite these Councillors and members of the public who have not signed, to sign."

Labour councillor Rachel Burgess also said: "The value in this petition was to demonstrate to both the Post Office and John Redwood the massive strength of local feeling against the Post Office closure.  

"John Redwood has taken action as, thanks to this petition, the feelings of his constituents are blatantly clear. I hope he will continue to press the Post Office Minister to reverse this decision. 

"The Labour Party publicised the consultation meeting widely and organised a protest outside for the entire duration of the meeting. We took the petition into the consultation and showed the Post Office representatives who stated they could see the strength of feeling. It was obvious to them! 

"The idea that the Labour Party has let people down is disappointing political game playing by the other parties - they know, as does everyone else, that the Labour Party were the only party who made any real efforts to save our Crown Post Office."