THE Post Office in Northallerton has come under renewed fire, with customers protesting the service has been “diabolical” amid constantly changing opening hours.

Jack Dobson, chairman of Northallerton Area Over Fifties Forum, said people had to know if changes were permanent and whether it would be staying open.

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He is calling on Richmond MP Rishi Sunak to take action.

Northallerton Town Council has also written to the MP over the problems, but Mr Sunak said he has received assurances from the Post Office that reductions in the opening hours are temporary.

He asked the Post Office for an explanation of sudden and unannounced closures of the service in the branch of WH Smith after being contacted by constituents.

Currently, the post office is closed on Sundays and closing early on weekdays and Saturdays.

In its response the Post Office said the closures were caused by staff having to self-isolate during the Covid-19 pandemic and were short-term.

Mr Sunak said he welcomed the explanation and the assurance that the current operating hours were temporary.

He said: “I understand the difficulties Covid-19 has caused to many businesses, particularly in relation to staff.

“But I will continue to monitor the situation closely and will press the Post Office to ensure the usual opening hours resume as soon as possible.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry for the disruption caused to opening hours at Northallerton Post Office.

“Retailers are still operating in challenging times due to the pandemic.

“On occasion, sickness or staff being pinged to self-isolate have unavoidably affected staffing levels.

“This is an issue affecting retailers across the UK. We’re working with our retail partner and investigating the issues customers are facing specifically at Northallerton branch as we know how important a Post Office is to a community.

“Last Saturday the branch was unfortunately closed due to numerous staffing issues. The branch is now open once again from Monday to Saturday.”

Mr Dobson said there were major problems on Saturday morning with many people turning up to be faced with the Post Office area closed off.

He said: “One elderly lady with a parcel said she had come on the bus especially to post it to her sister. It really is diabolical.

"The poor WH Smith staff said there was nothing they could do, it is up to the Post Office.

“People have to know if this is going to be permanent and whether it is going to stay open.

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"For many elderly people, they can’t check online to see if it is going to be open because they don’t have computers and can’t afford wifi and even then different sites give different opening times.

"We know there have been problems because of the pandemic but other shops keep to their opening hours.”

The Post Office closed its office in the High Street to move into the WH Smith store more than two years ago.

A spokesperson for the town council said it has been “following this issue closely for some time and has expressed its concern in a letter to Rishi Sunak”.

Adding: “The people of Northallerton deserve a much better service.”

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