Prime Minister must intervene over post office closures

PUBLISHED: 15:05 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:38 07 September 2010

PRESSURE is mounting for the Post Office to reopen branches in Highgate, Muswell Hill and Crouch End. The area s MP Lynne Featherstone has asked the Prime Minister to reverse this summer s closure of five post offices in Haringey.

PRESSURE is mounting for the Post Office to reopen branches in Highgate, Muswell Hill and Crouch End.

The area's MP Lynne Featherstone has asked the Prime Minister to reverse this summer's closure of five post offices in Haringey.

Her plea follows the announcement last Thursday by work and pensions secretary James Purnell that the Post Office would continue to run the card account which distributes benefits to 4.3 million claimants - saving 3,000 post offices nationally.

In a letter to Gordon Brown, Ms Featherstone writes: "This is so unfair, given the real hardship their closure has caused to my constituents - particularly the elderly, the vulnerable, those with disabilities, home workers and mothers with buggies and young children."

The branches Ms Featherstone wants to see reopened are Highgate High Street, Alexandra Park, Salisbury Road, Weston Park and Ferme Park Road.

Branches in Camden that have been axed are South End Green, England's Lane and Crowndale Road, Golders Green and Child's Hill.

Liz Morris is vice-chairwoman of the Highgate Society, which campaigned vociferously against the closure of the village's post office. She said: "I've been following these developments with intrigue because it appears that Peter Mandelson has realised how vital the post office network is to our communities.

"I'm delighted to hear that Lynne Featherstone has written to the PM and I will be urging Glenda Jackson, the Labour MP for Highgate, to do the same."

The Post Office had faced competition in recent weeks from the private company PayPoint to run the Post Office Card Account.

But ministers decided to close the bidding process after the National Federation of Sub Post Masters warned that 3,000 branches would close if the contract was lost.

In his statement last Thursday, Mr Purnell said: "The Post Office is a cherished national institution at the heart of many communities.

"Now is not the time for the government to do anything to put the network at risk, particularly as post offices are often the only providers of financial services in remote areas."

Mrs Morris, who lives in Southwood Lane, said: "Losing a post office saps the vitality out of a community and we in Highgate High Street have experienced this dreadful loss first hand.

"My understanding is that post offices in Camden and Haringey were given the equivalent of a golden handshake and signed an agreement that they would not be able to reopen. But I suppose that if anyone can reverse this, it is the government."

A Post Office spokeswoman said: "The recent post office closures in the Hornsey and Wood Green area were part of our national Network Change programme which has the aim of providing a viable and sustainable post office network for the future.

"We have no current plans to reopen offices that have shut under this process.

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