Public vows to stamp out post office plans

ANGRY Royal Mail customers have vowed to fight tooth and nail against plans to axe six precious local post offices

Charlotte Newton

ANGRY Royal Mail customers have vowed to fight tooth and nail against plans to axe six precious local post offices.

As we exclusively revealed in last week's Broadway, Post Office Ltd is planning a controversial cull of up to 2,500 branches nationwide, and on Tuesday it launched a six-week consultation into the proposals.

Among the offices facing closure are Highgate High Street, Alexandra Park Road in Muswell Hill, Ferme Park Road in Finsbury Park, Salisbury Road in Wood Green, Weston Park in Hornsey and East End Road in East Finchley.

But furious customers are pledging to put up a fight.

Helen Betts from Victoria Road in Muswell Hill is leading a campaign against the cuts. Ms Betts said: "None of us can understand why Royal Mail is doing this. The post office in Alexandra Park Road makes a profit, it's extremely busy and it's an asset to the community. It just doesn't make sense. Young and old use it, whether it's for sending parcels or collecting a weekly pension.

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"The post offices in Muswell Hill and Wood Green are already very busy with queues that snake down the road."

Football coach Bob Packham is equally perplexed by plans to close the Weston Park post office in Hornsey. Mr Packham, 51, said: "The post office is well used and it's a great part of the community. I'm very cynical about claims that this is a six-week consultation process. It's all to do with money and if the post office is not seen to be economically viable it will be closed, irrespective of local people's views and whether it is socially viable."

Haringey Council has also condemned the plans. Lib Dem and Labour councillors voted unanimously at a meeting on Monday to oppose Post Office Ltd's proposed closures.

Leader Cllr George Meehan said: "This is an extremely important issue for Haringey. We are happy to stand shoulder to shoulder across the political divide in opposition to the closure plans.

"Post offices not only provide a focus for many of our communities, they also offer a lifeline to many residents, particularly older and disabled people.

"We will be lobbying Post Office Ltd to rethink these plans, but in the meantime I would urge residents across the borough to contact them and make their feelings known."

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone said: "I am absolutely furious that a third of the post offices in my constituency are threatened with closure.

"These offices are the lynchpin for small parades and their closure could be the death knell for small independent retailers who rely on them as draw for customers.

"More than that, where will this leave older people and those with mobility issues who already have limited choice about how far they can reasonably travel for shops and banking services?"

Anita Turner, Post Office Ltd's Network Development Manager for London, said: "Taking the decision to close any branch is always very difficult and we know it will cause concern to many of our customers.

"We want to ensure that everyone who uses, relies on or has any concern with Post Office services is both fully aware of the proposed changes and able to give views on them."

The six-week public consultation will run until April 2.