A DECISION by Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee to refuse an application for a cash machine to be installed in Sunniside Post Office has been attacked by the village’s Liberal Democrat Councillor.
With 2500 Post Offices set for closure by the Government, branches are needing to develop new business to stay open. Installing a cash machine at the branch in Sunniside would have helped secure the future of the Post Office and boost the village centre.
Dr Jonathan Wallace, Councillor for Sunniside, backed the plan and ran a petition in favour of the cash machine application. 240 residents signed it.
But Gateshead Council’s Highways Department objected to the cash machine as the Post Office is next to a pedestrian crossing.
And the planning committee split along party lines when it took the decision on Wednesday 13th June to throw out the application.
The plan was defeated 7 votes to 6. All those voting against the application being approved were Labour. Only one Labour Councillor, Malcolm Brain, voted for the proposal. The other 5 backing the plan were Liberal Democrats.
“This cash machine would have been a boost to Sunniside Post Office, helping to secure its future, at a time when one in five branches throughout the country is to be axed,” said Councillor Wallace.
“A free to use, 24 hour cash machine would also have been a boost for the village centre generally, and for residents.
“Sunniside is, by no stretch of the imagination, a wealthy area, and many people are dependent on the Post Office and local shops. Many don’t have cars to get to other shopping centres and the bus services in the village have been reduced in recent years.
“This application would have disproportionately benefited some of the poorest areas in my ward. I am therefore amazed and appalled that it has been rejected.
“It is a bizarre situation where a business on a front street can’t be developed because planners think it might attract people to use it and visit the area by car. Under that thinking, just about every front street in every community would have to be closed down.”