Agenda and decisions

Environment & Economy Select Committee - Wednesday, 20 November 2019 6.00pm

Venue: Shimkent Room - Daneshill House, Danestrete. View directions

Contact: Jackie Cansick  Email:

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D Bainbridge and D Cullen and apologies for lateness were received from Councillors M Downing (Chair) and L Rossati.

Councillor A Mitchell CC in the Chair.

There were no declarations of interest.


MINUTES - 3 SEPTEMBER 2019 pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Environment and Economy Select Committee held on 3 September 2019


It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Environment & Economy Select Committee held on 3 September 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



To discuss the current provision of Post Offices in Stevenage and consider their ongoing viability when located within retail stores and to discuss the latest position with a temporary or long term solution for the Old Town High Street Post Office.


Members will be invited to interview the Director of North Thames & East Anglia National Federation of Sub Postmasters, a representative of Stevenage Old Town Business Partnership and the Manager of the Co-op at Symonds Green.


The Chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting and a round of introductions was made.


The Chair then invited Christine Donnelly to address the Committee.


Ms Donnelly made a presentation during which she outlined the issues facing sub postmasters, which included competition from alternative service providers, declining letter volumes and a revised payments schedule which had resulted in reduced earnings potential for sub postmasters. 


The Committee was advised that for most locations there was a need for the sub postmaster to have an alternative revenue stream (for example retail) within the premises to make a sub post office economically viable.


The Committee was further advised of a number of activities that local authorities could undertake to support the post office network in their area.


Members then asked a number of questions which included the strategic oversight of the post office network, the vulnerability of post offices located within retail chains, the Crown Office closure program and potential emergency measures to provide post office services to the Old Town.


With respect to the strategic oversight of the post office network the meeting was advised that Post Office Ltd had a longer-standing approach of providing services for the majority of the population within a three miles area, with exceptions made for remote rural areas.  When an application to open a new post office was received an impact assessment on other post offices in the area would be made and the application judged accordingly, to support viability of the existing network.


For those post offices located within retail premises provision of services was at risk from decisions made by the owner of the premises such as the closure of the Waitrose branch in the Old Town.  The Post Office would have no say in such decisions.  However, in respect of independently run post offices, these services could also be at risk from the retirement of either the sub postmaster or the business owner when no successor could be found.


In reply to the question concerning the Crown Office closure program the meeting was advised that Crown Offices had been closed and moved into retail outlets such as W H Smith in most towns of a comparable, and larger, size to Stevenage. 


Contingency arrangements for the provision of post office services for the Old Town were then discussed and the Committee was advised that in certain circumstances Post Office Ltd could provide potentially alternative arrangements where local conditions and Post Office Ltd funding and decision making permitted.  Often this could be in the form of a porta cabin or temporary visit services.   Members requested that Officers pursue this as an option and the Strategic Director undertook to write to Post Office Ltd to request that they consider provision of emergency post office facilities in the Old Town.


The Chair thanked Christine Donnelly for her input to the meeting and then invited Chris Newbitt, manager of the Co-op at Symonds Green to address the Committee.


Mr Newbitt informed the Committee that following the closure  ...  view the full decision text for item 3.



To consider any Part 1 business accepted by the Chair as urgent.





To consider the following motions –


1.  That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.


2.  That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.



Not required.



To consider any Part II business accepted by the Chair as urgent.