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Consultation is a fiasco, say post office protesters

PUBLISHED: 16:43 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 07 September 2010

POST Office protesters have branded the consultation about branch closures 'a sham'. Angry residents are furious Post Office bosses have failed to meet them face-to-face to answer questions about the rationale for the closures.

Marc Mullen

POST Office protesters have branded the consultation about branch closures "a sham".

Angry residents are furious Post Office bosses have failed to meet them face-to-face to answer questions about the rationale for the closures.

Last week senior mail men pulled out of a meeting arranged by the South End Green Association (Sega).

And on Monday night councillors told Post Office Ltd there was no point in them attending the Hampstead Area Forum - because they were planning to discuss recycling instead.

Pam Gilby, Sega chairwoman, said: "It has been an absolute fiasco. They are just going through the motions of the consultation.

"I think they have already made their decision. The consultation is to give the illusion that they are listening to us, but they are not."

As well as the sub post office in South End Green, the office in England's Lane has been earmarked for closure as well as branches in Highgate, Golders Green, Camden Town and Alexandra Palace.

A branch on Haverstock Hill also closed four years ago and, despite previous promises to the contrary, Post Office Ltd has now said it will not be returning to the area.

Belsize councillor Arthur Graves has arranged a meeting in Hampstead Town Hall for 6.30pm on March 17 to discuss the situation.

He said: "We have invited three people to come along from the Post Office and answer questions about essentially Belsize, but I imagine people who haven't been able to speak to Post Office representatives will want their two pennies."

Post Office Ltd's six-week consultation on the closures ends on April 2.

Sega's meeting last Tuesday degenerated into farce when a representative of Post Watch, the postal watchdog, claimed it had sent inspectors to Hampstead post office and found there were no queues, backing up Post Office Ltd's claims that the office is underused.

Ms Gilby said: "This is part of a bigger issue where they are ripping the heart out of our communities. I hope they can at least come to the next meeting."

A Post Office spokeswoman said: "We will go to meetings when we are asked to. We are covering as many as possible. We have been to 67 meetings."

The Heath and Hampstead Society is sending a letter of objection to the Post Office, while Sega has sent letters to the Post Office and Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson.

Meanwhile on Tuesday Highgate residents furious about the proposed closure of their post office are due to protest from 10am. Comedian Victoria Wood and former newsreader Richard Baker will join the protesters.

Liz Morris, vice-chairwoman of the Highgate Society which is leading the protest, said: "The post office is a centre for Highgate village life - closing it would change the character of the high street and for many people there is no viable alternative.

"Travelling to other post offices means over half a mile up and down the steepest hills in London - impossible for some older people and an ordeal for parents with young children."

marc.mullen@hamhigh.co.uk


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