Steve Rainbow, owner of Articulate Framing.
Steve Rainbow, owner of Articulate Framing. Cordell Richardson

Business owners fume over post office closure

IPSWICH business owners say the permanent closure of the CBD's post office is another blow to an already sad state of affairs in the middle of town.

Citing declining patronage, Australia Post's CBD post office is set to close in September, with PO Box holders notified of the imminent closure this week via mail.

In a letter sent to customers, which includes The Queensland Times, Australia Post says the office at Tower Central in Brisbane St will close permanently on Friday, September 13.

Articulate Framing owner Steve Rainbow was among those to voice his anger over the decision, which he said was "just another kick in the guts" for the type of small businesses that were struggling to survive in the CBD.

Mr Rainbow, whose picture framing business is on the corner of East and Limestone Streets, said the convenience of the inner city post office and the customer service that was provided would be sorely missed.

"We can only assume that Australia Post made this decision based on the office not making enough money," he said.

"The council and our MP's should be jumping up and down about this. How are we going to promote our CBD when there is no post office in it?"

 

Ipswich Post Office.
Ipswich Post Office. Cordell Richardson

 

Federal MP Shayne Neumann was fuming over the closure today, describing it as an outrageous insult.

"It is an insult to the people of Ipswich and I will be calling for a reversal of the decision in parliament tomorrow," Mr Neumann said.

"With the work going on in the CBD, declining patronage is no excuse. They should be holding out until the redevelopment of the CBD is complete and then I'm certain the foot traffic will increase again.

"This is the heart of Ipswich we are talking about here; this is old Ipswich. I am going to raise this in my appropriation speech in parliament. I will be raising it directly with Australia Post."

State MP Jennifer Howard said there had been no consultation over the decision prior to Australia Post's public notification this week.

She said the decision was premature, given the work going on in the CBD.

No explanation is provided for the closure in the letter sent out to customers, but it includes a list of alternative PO Boxes where customers can have mail redirected, including Riverlink, One Mile, Booval Fair, Brassall Shopping Centre and Raceview.

An Australia Post spokeswoman later confirmed there had been an "ongoing decline in customer patronage at the Ipswich Post Office", but that the close proximity of other Post Offices in the Ipswich area with available PO Box space was another factor.

The decision coincides with the end of the lease on the Tower Central building.

Australia Post is understood to be investigating the merit in introducing a Community Postal Agency in the CBD, but cannot confirm details at this stage. The spokeswoman said there would be no job losses, with staff being redeployed to other outlets and positions.

Tower Central Cafe owner Karen Ladlay, whose business is directly opposite the post office, said it was sad news.

"That post office has been in Ipswich as long as I can remember and I've been here 40 years," she said.

"It was good for our business because people would go and sort out their mail or pay bills while waiting for a coffee. It is sad that things keep closing around Ipswich, but it seems like anything in Ipswich now we just have to keep rolling with the punches."

Bendigo Bank remains as the main tenant of Tower Central, with plans under way for a new fit out of the branch that will relocate from Ipswich Mall to the tower in early October.

Maurice Blackburn Ipswich senior associate Michaela Bartonkova said the closure was bad news for small business owners and every day people who relied on the convenience.

"It is really going to affect those smaller businesses that don't have the time or the staff to deal with the change," she said. It was a view reflected by Mr Rainbow.

"I consider myself to be a micro business, and it is all the microbusinesses around Ipswich that are keeping the town going," he said.

"We are the ones getting up, sometimes at 4am and busting our guts every day. You can't just shut the doors to go out to a different post office."

Australia Post is offering six months of free mail redirection to allow customers time to update all contact information, but customers have only until August 12 to notify Australia Post of their preferred arrangements.