Petition launched for a Post Office in St Mary and St John’s

AN urban church on one of the main roads into Oxford has launched an online petition calling on the Post Office to consider opening a branch in its building.

The Revd Phil Ritchie, Vicar of St Mary and St John’s on Cowley Road, launched the petition last week.

Until around two years ago there was a Post Office in the Honest Stationery shop, right in the middle of the section of Cowley Road that is bustling with supermarkets, cafès, charity shops, bars and other businesses. Since that closed, people have been forced to travel further afield, to Templars Square Shopping Centre or Iffley Road for Post Office services.

Father Phil says: “When you think about mission and what mission is, it’s not just about getting people into church. It’s not about membership it’s about seeing signs of God’s kingdom in the wider community and joining in and seeing where there are gaps.

“Some older people don’t want to do everything on a computer and want to be able to come to a Post Office. It’s about seeing a human person, not just a machine, and accessing the services they need to be able to live better.”

Beth Edwards, one of the two churchwardens at SS Mary and John said: “What we are proposing is the Post Office use the space under the tower in the church. Other churches have done this, and there are also Post Offices in village halls and other community venues. They don’t have to be businesses.”

Anne Durrant, a churchgoer who lives on Cowley Road, welcomed the idea. She said: “I needed to send a parcel recently and Google told me the nearest Post Office was still in the Honest Stationery shop. I cycled up there to find the bemused shop assistant didn’t know anything about it. I had to go all the way back down Cowley Road and back to Templars Square to the Post Office in the Co-op there.

“It was a minor inconvenience for me, but I am concerned about disabled or elderly people who wouldn’t be able to make that journey. How do they go about collecting their benefits or pensions if they don’t have a computer or don’t want to do those things online?”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the ongoing temporary closure of Cowley Road Post Office, and we would like to reassure the community that we are continuing to look for a long-term solution to restore Post Offices services.

“We are very sorry to customers for the closure.  We do of course need to ensure that our branches are commercially sustainable, which is why we are exploring opportunities with local retailers to identify a new location for the branch which achieves this.”