Campaign to save Crouch End Post Office backed by 2,500 supporters

The Post Office's Stuart Taylor receives a petition and letters pledging to boycott a proposed franc

The Post Office's Stuart Taylor receives a petition and letters pledging to boycott a proposed franchise at Crouch End Post Office from Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West along with councillor Adam Jogee and Communications Workers Union rep Clive Tickner. Picture: Jon King - Credit: Archant

A campaign against plans to spin off Crouch End Post Office has received the backing of 2,500 supporters.

Last month the Post Office announced it was consulting on the possibility of turning its Topsfield Parade branch into a franchise and named Universal Office Equipment (UOE) as preferred partner.

Soon after The Save Our Post Office Crouch End Residents’ Group mobilised calling on locals to sign a petition rejecting the plans fearing the proposal would lead to a poorer service, job losses and less certain future.

At a public consultation in Union Church Community Centre on Thursday Hornsey and Wood Green MP presented the Post Office’s external relations manager Stuart Taylor with the petition along with 500 letters from people vowing to boycott UOE.

In the meeting Catherine West told Mr Taylor and UOE boss Elliot Jacobs: “There are concerns about the staff’s terms and conditions and handing over a trusted branch to a newcomer.”

In reply, Mr Jacobs acknowledged change is “hard for everyone” but people needed to understand the proposal would not lead to a downgrading of services.

“We want to do the right thing. I believe in the Post Office as a hub of the community,” he added before going on to say waiting times at branches which had already become UOE franchises had average waiting times of one to three minutes.

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Communication Workers Union rep Clive Tickner said branch staff were “really upset” by the plan.

“The Post Office should listen to what the community is saying,” he added.

But Mr Taylor defended the move saying sharing business costs with UOE would lead to “greater sustainability”.

“We operate in an extremely competitive environment. Our existing customers are being targeted by competitors. We want to keep existing customers and attract new ones.”

Asked whether the public consultation was just a paper exercise, Mr Taylor said: “This is a genuine consultation aiming to share with customers a detailed proposal for their post office.

“We want to hear their views on the range of services on offer. All factors will be taken into account before we make our decision.”

On the risk of UOE giving up the running of the Post Office in the future, Mr Taylor said franchisees had to provide a minimum 12 month notice period.

“That’s more than ample time to find someone else. But we don’t expect that to happen. We know UOE want to provide a high quality service for the long term.”

A Crouch End resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s not easy to say if it’s a good or bad thing. My main concern is there won’t be enough staff to help customers.”