Banbury 'should not have to expect a second class post office' says former MP

Banbury 'should not have to expect a second class post office' says former MP Sir Tony Baldry after being told to go to Oxford to renew his passport.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:43 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:55 pm
Castle Quay, where the Banbury main Post Office moved from the High Street into the WH Smith unit
Castle Quay, where the Banbury main Post Office moved from the High Street into the WH Smith unit

Sir Tony, who lives in Bloxham and is High Steward of Banbury, was told by the main post office in WH Smith in Castle Quay Shopping Centre, that there was no one suitably trained to process his passport.

"On Wednesday I took my passport and all the necessary documents to the Post Office in Castle Quay but was told there was no-one there suitably trained to process my application and please could I come back on another day,” he told the Banbury Guardian.

"I returned on Thursday, when I was told ‘yes, there was someone who had the appropriate training, but they could not process my application because the kit needed to process the application was broken and they had no idea when it would be repaired’.

Sir Tony Baldry, whose efforts to renew his passport came to nothing at the Banbury main post office

"I asked what other services were they meant to provide that they were unable to provide and they said they were no longer able to process driving licence applications or passport applications, amongst others.

"I asked when they thought they would be able to perform these functions where people are directed to go to the Post Office to get various applications processed and they said they had absolutely no idea and could give me no indication of when it might be sensible for me to return, or when their equipment would be fixed,” he said.

The difficulty is there are only certain post offices that are designated to deal with photo identity and photographs for documents such as passports, driving licenses and Security Industry Regulator documents in and around Banbury and the designated post office is the one in Castle Quay. If that’s not working then Banbury area residents have to schlep off to Oxford or Coventry.

"It’s a very simple proposition - I don’t see why Banbury should have to expect second class services.”

Sir Tony said the matter was not the fault of the staff.

"The machinery is broken. The software doesn’t work and the staff there have no idea when they are going to be able to provide these services. For a town of 40,000 plus people, it means that if one wants a driving licence or passport processed, people are going to have to go to the main Post Office in Oxford or some other town further afield.

"There is no indication of when these services will be resumed at the Castle Quay. The Post Office shows a contemptible lack of concern on the part of Post Office Managers for providing to local people services that they are entitled to expect.”

Sir Tony said the problem affected some businesses badly too. As chair of the Westminster Group plc, a Banbury-based company specialising in providing security services across the world, the inability to obtain essential security licences was also affected.

The post office, which was moved from dedicated premises in the High Street to a concession at WH Smith, was said to be closed today (Monday).

The Post Office media department has been asked for a response on the matter.