FEARS have been expressed for the future of a postal service after it was downgraded without consultation.

The service at Godmanchester Post Office has been reduced from two separate counters in the One Stop shop in The Causeway to a single counter adjoining the main till.

The new-look store, unveiled on November 21, has caused anger as post office customers now have to discuss financial and banking queries alongside shoppers picking up a pint of milk.

And customers wanting to deposit cheques in certain banks have also been turned away since the changes. Members of Godmanchester Parish Church were told they could no longer deposit cheques in the church's account and must now travel to Huntingdon.

Church treasurer Colin Thirwell said the new layout raised security concerns.

"The queue for the till is right next to the queue for the post office," he told The Hunts Post. "I have written the Post Office a strongly-worded letter. All I had back was an e-mail asking for my name and address, which was at the top of the letter.

"It is now easier to go to Brampton or Papworth. There are 7,000 people in Godmanchester. We should have a post office bigger than the one in Papworth."

Godmanchester town councillor Nigel Pauley pointed out that the changes to the post office had come as proposals moved forward to build 700 homes at Bearscroft Farm.

Mr Pauley said: "This couldn't have come at a worse time. You'd have thought we'd be in the market for a bigger post office, not a smaller one. It seems the bigger our town becomes, the fewer amenities we have.

"This new arrangement isn't satisfactory. There is less privacy and the counter is higher. OAPS are having to deal with sensitive matters next to people buying cigarettes, groceries and papers.

"Very few locals I've spoken to are happy with the new post office 'kiosk' at the end of the normal counter. My bet is this move is one step from One Stop closing it in the future.

"I fear this is the thin end of the wedge and the days of Godmanchester having its own post office are numbered."

But Post Office officials defended their decision not to consult on the changes, part of a nationwide initiative to create 'Post Office Local' branches. Consultations do not need to take place on internal changes to branches.

Other post office branches in Huntingdonshire could also follow the new model, if the sub-postmaster or mistress who ran the store wanted to make the change, it was warned.

Spokesman Sally Hopkins said Post Office Local customers benefited from longer opening hours and no longer had to queue twice.

She said: "By creating a more convenient offer to our customers, the Post Office Local approach has the potential to play its part in sustaining the current Post Office network into the future."