Efforts accelerate to ‘save’ Muswell Hill and Crouch End post offices

Andy Furey, John Batt, MP Catherine West, Cllr Stephen Mann (left to right.) Photo: Dieter Perry

Andy Furey, John Batt, MP Catherine West, Cllr Stephen Mann (left to right.) Photo: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

Anxious residents and local businesses met to raise concerns about plans for Crouch End and Muswell Hill post offices to be transformed into private franchises.

If no franchisee is found for them, workers fear the post offices could be forced to close.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, and Andy Furey, national official at the Communication Workers Union, spoke at the event at St Mary’s School in Crouch End last Wednesday, which attracted 80 people.

“It was a very good meeting - a very good turnout,” Ms West said. “Everyone is very keen to pursue keeping both post offices... We’re going to be putting up a fight”.

Ms West will write to Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the minister with responsibility for postal affairs and she encourages everyone else affected to do the same.

She is also asking to meet directly with Paula Vennells, the Chief Executive of the Post Office.

Andrew Rowan, who owns the Jewellery Exchange shop on Muswell Hill Broadway said the local post office was “nearly as important as a hospital”.

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“I’ve been here 30 years and it’s a facility that’s much needed in Muswell Hill.

“It’s a tragedy that it’s disappearing. What can we rely on in life? One of those things is the post office.”

“It’s an essential part of any thriving community.”

A Post Office spokeswoman said that the plans would be subject to a six week consultation.

“The position at the moment is that we are looking to franchise and have had some interest registered with us following a period of advertising for a potential franchise partner.

“But there are not yet detailed plans and when there are these will be subject to a six week public consultation.

“Most of our network is already run on an agency or franchise basis and has been for many years.

“We have around 300 directly run Crown branches in a network of 11500 branches.

“We cannot look to the taxpayer to subsidise loss making Crown branches and in some locations franchising offers benefits to both the business and customers (frequently longer opening hours.)

“Our plans are about continuing to provide good access to our services but in a sustainable way for the long term.”

The Post Office announced it had plans to transfer the running of nearly 40 crown post offices into private hands and close three more, impacting up to 1,000 jobs, according to figures from Communication Workers Union.