An 11th hour decision by Australia Post has given Woodstock Post Office a reprieve after the service faced imminent closure.
More than 50 Woodstock residents rallied at the post office on Friday morning after it was announced earlier in the week Australia Post had plans to shut the office.
Denise Norbury, who will be the Woodstock Community Postal Agent from Monday, said Australia Post informed her late Thursday that the office would remain open as Community Postal Agency (CPA).
“A CPA is a cutback service, so mail will continue to come here and be distributed, people can continue to pick up their mail in Woodstock,” she said.
“That was pretty much the main issue for the community, not being able to get their mail locally and all the inconveniences and costs involved in that.
“It's probably not ideal because there will be services at the moment that we will not be able to offer… It’s just a wait and see issue but the best thing is there will be no disruption to our mail, they didn’t have to close while they made a decision, which was what was going to be happening.”
An Australia Post spokesperson said current PO Box arrangements, along with mail and parcel collection will continue unchanged.
“Australia Post has secured a new operator to run a Community Postal Agency (CPA) in the Woodstock community to ensure continuity of service,” the spokesperson said.
“The Woodstock CPA will offer mail and parcel collection services and offer stamps and a limited range of postal products.
“Electronic services including Banking and BillPay will be available at nearby Cowra and Mandurama Post Offices.
“We are working with the agent to ensure a smooth transition. Trading hours for the new CPA will be Monday to Friday 9am – 1pm, and 4pm – 5pm.”
Ms Norbury said the reason for the initial plan to close the post office was due to the sale of the building falling through.
“The licencees had negotiated a sale of the business way back as far as late June, early July,” she said.
“We were all under the impression that the sale was going ahead… but I think it was only as recently as last Friday, the buyer pulled out of the sale, which left the post office with no options, the licencees had no options really.”
She said the Woodstock community then came together to oppose the closure.
“The community rallied and there was a lot of social media going left, right and centre,” she said.
Ms Norbury said if the closure had gone ahead, Woodstock residents would have to travel to Cowra to pick up their mail.
“It would have had terrible effect on the town.”
Resident Gavin Ballantine said, after hearing about the impending closure, a number of community members contacted politicians and the media.
“John Hill… who we would like to thank very much for what he’s done, he’s organised all the media, plus what people have done on Facebook and all that, I think it’s a very good result of what we got today,” he said.
“I’d just like to see it for the older people that can’t drive. I’m in my late 60s and there’s a lot of people here that can’t drive, they worry about how they can do this.”
Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West said it would have been “unacceptable” to expect Woodstock residents to travel to Cowra to collect or send mail.
“The community appear to be happy, the real fear and initial response from Australia Post to have to go to Cowra to get, that was totally unacceptable,” Cr West said.
“It’s a step in the right direction, let’s see what they are offering in the long term… There is a still way to go in ensuring the service.”
He said the response from the Woodstock community was another example of smaller communities working together to ensure the operation of vital services.
“This really just highlights the concern everybody has about the loss of services, from large corporations… and the way they are treating rural and remote communities.
The Nationals’ Riverina MP and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, also expressed his support for the Woodstock Post Office.
“I took up the fight once I was informed of the situation,” Mr McCormack said.
“Woodstock does not have a home delivery service, so residents rely on the post office as a place to collect their mail.
“I will continue to fight for residents in and around the town to find a workable solution to guarantee postal services in Woodstock are maintained.”