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Residents organise own collections to counter post office closures

PUBLISHED: 13:05 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:06 07 September 2010

POST Office closures will not defeat communities, residents vowed this week, as they unveiled proposals to provide their own postal service. In South End Green, where the Hampstead Heath office is set to close, traders have decided to organise their own p

POST Office closures will not defeat communities, residents vowed this week, as they unveiled proposals to provide their own postal service.

In South End Green, where the Hampstead Heath office is set to close, traders have decided to organise their own parcel collection service.

Residents in England's Lane, another closure spot, are looking into the possibility of residents privately funding a post office in a cafe or a shop, as well as applying for government grants to help.

And disappointed residents in Crowndale Road and Highgate High Street - the two other offices doomed to closure - are backing Camden Council's bid to take over the facilities.

Pam Gilby, chairwoman of the South End Green Association who led the campaign to save the Hampstead Heath office, said: "This is still a very open-ended issue. We just need lateral thinking about what we can do."

Secretary of the South End Green Traders' Association, Russell Oppenheimer, said: "We will set up a service where people can drop off their parcels at a given spot. We would sort them and the Royal Mail could do a pick up once a day by van. All we need to do is finalise which shop will do it."

Belsize residents are hoping to secure a social enterprise grant to help fund their office privately.

Ed Fordham, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, is leading the campaign.

"Post Office Ltd has said they are prepared to meet and discuss with local community groups on the future of the post office and this is an option that we will now be pursuing with regard to provision in Belsize in particular," Mr Fordham said.

The council is awaiting financial information on the offices earmarked for closure and exploring the possibility of grants and working alongside other councils to keep offices alive.

The work is taking place alongside Boris Johnson's bid to extend consultation over the closures.

He is continuing Ken Livingstone's High Court bid, claiming the consultation wasn't long enough. Some 155 post offices are to be closed across London in this wave of cuts due to be completed by July.

Campaigners for the Belsize office said Post Office Limited's final letter explaining why the closures are occurring made a glaring mistake when discussing Belsize.

Helen Lambert who runs the Primrose Gardens Community Association, said: "The report says Belsize should close because there are eight post offices nearby. That is ridiculous - there weren't eight offices before the last lot of closures they did.


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