The historic post office in popular Victorian goldfields tourism destination, Beechworth, is once again facing controversy. Although it had a reprieve in 2006 due to community dissent, it is now scheduled to move from its (nearly) 150 year old location.
Unlike the 2006 discussion where Beechworth stood to actually lose its post office and seven jobs, in 2018, to make the historic building wheel-chair friendly, a modern lift, external to the historic facade, was proposed. Shire councillors, dumbfounded as to why the most photographed site in Beechworth should be ‘altered’ in such a way, rejected the proposal in September 2017.
Beechworth ‘does’ tourism very well. Check out Trip Advisor comments on the historic Beechworth Post Office.
In 2018 fairness and equality are very important and disabled access is an issue. It seems Australia Post won’t/can’t (??) accept access from the side entrance in Ford Street – which would preserve the iconic, much photographed, Camp Street facade – therefore the Council has had to agree to the move to 12A Camp Street.
The Border Mail reported in October 2017 that after community consultation there were seven objections and one letter of support for the proposal, but on speaking with Australia Post today, I was told there has been no official survey/consultation process.
In my experience in regional Victoria, the full airing of difficult issues, where everyone has a voice, and time to consider all aspects, it is usually clear which path must be taken and the community moves on, down that path.
The Border Mail reports a mixed community reaction, but HOW has this reaction been gauged? It seems there has been and will be no community discussion. The post office management has organised information sessions on 20 and 21 June 2018….BUT the relocation to 12A Camp Street is already organised and will take place before 31 December 2018. Fait accompli?
I heard by word of mouth this morning about the imminent relocation…has there been anything in the Indigo Shire Newsletter?
NB On checking to ascertain accurate times I couldn’t find any promotion of the relocation info sessions, but after ringing Quercus Bookshop I now understand that post office management has rented the Quercus space to host two info sessions, which will not be a community discussion.
Given the iconic building and its huge cultural and historic significance, surely the community is entitled to be fully informed? Questions I would like to answered are:
The information sessions about the relocation are:
20 June 2018 – 2.00pm – 9pm
21 June 2018 – 9.00am – 3.00pm
* It would be a hazard on the footpath.
* Some disabled people would still not be able to use it because of its size.
* Cr Larry Golsdworthy said it would be a ‘blight on the landscape‘.. it totally disregarded the heritage and tourism significance of the site.
* Cr James Trenery said the council were still committed to providing access for people with disabilities, but the Australia Post idea was not the right one.
* Cr Bernard Gaffney said “People with a disability, who I have spoken to, are against this option.”
As a Beechworth ratepayer I would appreciate having been informed!