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Re-elect me and post offices are safe - Ken

PUBLISHED: 18:01 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:55 07 September 2010

MAYOR Ken Livingstone has vowed to save London's post offices including Camden's doomed four if he is re-elected, the Ham&High can exclusively reveal

Katie Davies

EXCLUSIVE:

MAYOR Ken Livingstone has vowed to save London's post offices including Camden's doomed four if he is re-elected, the Ham&High can exclusively reveal.

His pledge comes the same week that Belsize residents offered to buy the franchise of their threatened branch and run it themselves from a local shop or Starbucks.

They are looking to get 100 residents to pay around £1,000 each to keep the England's Lane office afloat until it makes a profit.

However, Mr Livingstone says they will be spared the expense if he wins a third term because he will bankroll all 171 London offices facing closure.

"We have submitted a legal challenge to the consultation length and are awaiting a court date," he said. "If, after that, they come back and say they still want to close the post offices we will challenge them again in court. If we go right the way through these legal challenges and closure is still the case, we will run them subsidised by City Hall - they will be kept open.

"This should be done on a Londonwide, not borough by borough, basis because we don't want Camden to keep them open and then Brent to decide they don't want to.

"We want a post office network so I will make this a generic policy across London. However, our first objective is that Post Office Limited keeps them open and they bear the brunt of the costs."

The other three mayoral candidates, when questioned by the Ham&High, said they would be keeping an eye on Essex council's attempt to take over their post offices - but didn't go as far as the direct pledge to keep them open.

In Camden this would save post offices facing the chop in South End Green, England's Lane, Crowndale Road and Highgate High Street.

Thousands have signed petitions and campaigned on the streets over the closures - with many turning out to a demo in South End Green on Saturday.

However, when discussing the closures, opposition candidate Boris Johnson questioned the mayor's motives for getting involved.

"They have been closing post offices over the last eight years and the mayor has done nothing about it until there is an election campaign," he said.

Post office campaigner Gene Adams said: "If the mayor saves London's post offices I would be thrilled, absolutely delighted. It's important people realise that there are these options, we need people to know it's not too late. We should keep fighting."

The bid to buy Belsize post office is being led by Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, Ed Fordham. He said: "This would be a social enterprise scheme - the government matches funding given by the local community. It would then be run as a mini-cooperative with residents as shareholders.

"The big issue is finding someone to be postmaster and somewhere to house it, but I think there would be someone in Belsize willing to do it for the benefit of the community.

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