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Fury vented at PO bosses over closures

PUBLISHED: 10:01 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:52 07 September 2010

CLOSING the post office in Harrow Road will plunge the already deprived area into a downward spiral, campaigners say. The council is backing up the claims, saying the huge amount of hard work already done to improve Westbourne will be

Susanna Wilkey

CLOSING the post office in Harrow Road will plunge the already deprived area into a downward spiral, campaigners say.

The council is backing up the claims, saying the huge amount of hard work already done to improve Westbourne will be reversed if the branch is shut.

At a meeting with Post Office bosses on Wednesday, residents made an impassioned plea for them to listen to residents and keep open Harrow Road and Formosa Street, which is also under threat. With only three weeks of consultation left, campaigners told bosses why the post offices were a vital part of the community and how much they needed them.

Claire Millett, from the Westbourne Neighbourhood Forum, said: "Westbourne is one of the most deprived wards in the whole of the country and the residents depend on the post office.

"It is really crucial to maximise the impact these regeneration schemes are having by keeping the post office in this area.

"If it closes, it would be a step backwards against what a lot of organisations have achieved and are trying to achieve in this area."

Resident Ahmed Hamid added: "The most important thing is the community. This post office is 19 years old and to take it away would remove the service from the poorest and most vulnerable people. Please please do not do it - do not close this post office because we really need it."

Westminster's economic development boss, Councillor Danny Chalkley, supported the residents.

He said: "The council will continue to oppose the closures of these post offices because we recognise they are vital community services.

"The post offices also form part of the council's economic aspirations particularly in the case of the Harrow Road. Economic development will be set back if post offices close."

Maida Vale residents are also demanding answers from Post Office bosses about the sudden change of alternative branches being recommended and the promise made two years ago when Clifton Road was closed.

They also questioned bosses about whether Formosa Street was actually losing money.

A spokesman for the Post Office said: "I am sure at the time that when they said Formosa Street would stay open they meant it. But nobody can see what will happen in the future."

The comment was met by jeers.

And when bosses refused to disclose whether the branches were losing money, saying it was "commercially sensitive" information, the crowd made plain its anger.

Bosses promised to listen to any concerns the residents have.

But cynics criticised the process. One resident said: "The only reason you want to know our objections is so you can update your paperwork and change the alternative branches."

Campaigners have demanded an extension to the consultation period after the U-turn over alternative branches.

But bosses would not give a definite answer and said they would 'let people know'.

The council also stated at the meeting that it was interested in progressing talks with the Post Office about opening branches in their own buildings.

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.uk


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