A community group has been formed in Wallendbeen to set up a new post office in a convenient village location, to replace the highway post office soon to close.
Unknown developers have bought the highway site, at the junction of Burley Griffin Way and Olympic Highway, to build a new service station/fast food complex catering for the heavy truck traffic as well as locals and tourists.
The community group is keen about the idea of local people running their own post office, preferably in the main street, adding activity and business to the village, with locals benefiting from the Australia Post service fees and sales of associated goods.
The group was formed after an unexpectedly large turnout of more than 35 residents crowded into the Post Office this morning to listen to a briefing by four Australia Post (AP) representatives.
Ian Noakes, from AP Canberra, confirmed the advice made available in a leaflet last Friday, that the Post Office would close at the end of this month.
He also confirmed a temporary measure starting on 1 February, whereby residents will have to pick up their mail from Cootamundra Post Office, and provide photo identification, until a contractor could be found to provide a “street delivery service”.
Explaining what was meant by “street delivery”, Mr Noakes said AP was not prepared to deliver mail to individual homes, but would deliver to a central point at the end of a street if residents were prepared to provide their own letterboxes there.
Mr Noakes apologised for the short notice about the new arrangements, saying last year AP had approached the only local business - the pub - about providing a venue for the post office, but they had declined.
Following that, he said, the developers of the service station/fast food complex had indicated they would provide a venue in the new building.
However the developers early this year told AP they were not prepared to provide an interim post office service from a temporary building or caravan, after which AP had decided to close the post office altogether and replace it with street delivery.
People at the meeting expressed outrage at the lack of community consultation about the post office’s future, many saying they would prefer a continuation of the post office to the proposed end-of-street arrangement.
Local resident Annie Jacobs asked any interested residents to meet outside the post office following the AP Q&A session, to discuss an alternative proposal for a community-run post office.
Around 20 people gathered outside the building and added their names and contact details to a list to show their support and keep updated on developments.
Co-convenor of the group, Greg Quirk, said he was prepared to offer the packing shed on his property, next to the village at the end of George Street, as a venue for a post office if necessary.
The convenors will attempt to contact the owners of the current post office site to establish whether the present shop can be used temporarily, and to AP to see whether they are prepared to train and endorse local people to run the business, which includes a daily delivery service to properties in the Wallendbeen district.
The group will also inquire about properties in the main street, including the former post office building, to see whether a suitable site can be rented.
Mr Noakes said that while AP had known about the property’s sale and retirement of the operators for some months, he could not answer any questions about why operation of the post office was not put out to tender, advertised or even publicised in a notice in the post office window.