Seven ways to fight closure threat to post offices

I was an executive member at the time of the last round of post office closures – 2003 – where the council and local people put a convincing case for keeping post offices in communities with high deprivation and which were earmarked for closure. This tim

I was an executive member at the time of the last round of post office closures - 2003 - where the council and local people put a convincing case for keeping post offices in communities with high deprivation and which were earmarked for closure.

This time around the council seems to be much more passive in the practical task of representing people, but much louder in the politics of condemnation.

I would point out to readers that some Lib Dem councillors who have been loudly campaigning on post offices are also backing a closure programme of many council receptions and neighbourhood offices across the borough, where people can go to talk face-to-face to the council about housing repairs, anti-social behaviour, council tax, rents or other services.

Here are some practical suggestions for the council to stand up for local people:

1. Partnership: Westminster City Council is proposing an innovative partnership which could see some post offices opening in council-run libraries, we should explore this;

2. New opportunities: New business, like child trust funds or council discount schemes, could make post offices more viable

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3. Information points: branches could be used as council information points for council campaigns and/or education - giving post offices a hire fee for campaigns;

4. Community Strategy: Saving local post offices is not mentioned in the Community Strategy, agreed in 2006; if it had been, this would give the council greater weight and force at the negotiating table

5. Additional research to support our case: Last time there were closures the then Labour council put an experienced senior officer on the case. She developed useful deprivation analyses - strengthening the case for two offices in deprived areas - and supported residents in their representations

6. Scrutiny: In 2003 Camden held a scrutiny panel, with strong report recommendations, and the council ran public meetings. We were also in regular contact with Postwatch. Where is this now under the Lib Dems/Tories?

7. Judicial Review: Ken Livingstone has confirmed he is considering a legal challenge on closures. The Mayor believes the Post Office's consultation period should be extended to at least 12 weeks, as per Cabinet Office guidance - Lib Dems and Tories should support him on this.

All of us want post offices to remain open and to be sustainable in the longer term. We should all be keen to work to achieve this, but the council must provide better leadership in this matter.

Cllr. Theo Blackwell

(Labour) Regent's Park

The concept of public convenience is facing extiction. I'm talking not only about toilets, but 2,500 post offices throughout the country that are facing closure.

Expedience, not convenience, is the war cry of our beloved democracy... or, should I say 'hypocrisy'?

Our governments seems to regard our communities as cattle to milk and kill for profit - paying 'think tanks' millions to dream up ways to save money.

They have sold off our playing fields, swimming pools, nurses' homes, railways, utilities, etc, and paid a fortune to rebrand the Royal Mail as Consignia, and then back again!

In the wake of this waste, over which we, as taxpayers, had no control, many sub post offices at the heart of our communities, some of which are survivors of previous culls, are targeted for closure.

When a similar situation arose in Germany, including threats to remove post boxes, there was such a public outcry that many of the proposals were withdrawn.

If we value our community services, we must learn to fight to retain them. The British are notoriously non-demonstrative. We watch passively as so much of what we treasure disappears. It is no good saying ''they should do something.'' We are they!

The local community and Haringey Council are united in opposing the closure of our sub post office in Alexandra Park Road, Muswell Hill. It has been in existence since 1909, profitably and efficiently run, serving thousands, many of whom would find it inconvenient, costly and time-consuming to travel further afield to access another post office.

If you feel passionately about this, don't just walk meekly like cattle to the slaughter - make yourselves heard!

Susan Bennett

St Regis Close

Alexandra Park Road, N10

HAM&HIGH readers have been reporting how tremors from the UK's biggest earthquake for a quarter of a century have been felt in north London.

John Morris, who lives in Swiss Cottage, rang our offices this morning to say: ''I was walking along Avenue Road in the early hours when I felt the ground shake. I thought at first it was a tube train by then realised it couldn't be at that time. It seemed to last for about 20 seconds and was very unnerving.''

Peter Jarvis, who was in Hendon, was typing on his computer when he heard a weird sound. ''It was almost as if the house was groaning and the speakers attached to my computer wobbled for a few seconds. I looked outside to see if something had happened but there was nothing.

'I knocked on my flat mate's door and he said he had heard and felt something as well, but thought he had imagined it.''

Archway Road reader John Martin was another who mistook the effect of the tremors for those of a passing train or heavy lorry.

''I was just a little alarmed and puzzled as the vibration passed quite quickly, certainly faster than a passing train would have done but everything made sense when I woke up this morning and heard that there had been an earthquake. If that is what an earthquake more than 100 miles away feels like, I wouldn't want to be any closer to one!''

According to the British Geological Survey (BGS) the quake, which occurred at around 1am, measured 5.3 on the Richter scale and its epicentre was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, more than 160 miles from Hampstead.

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