The axe-wielders haven’t got us all licked just yet’

PROTESTERS have vowed to fight to the end to keep post offices in Harrow Road and Maida Vale open

PROTESTERS have vowed to fight to the end to keep post offices in Harrow Road and Maida Vale open.

As the Wood&Vale exclusively revealed last week, Royal Mail intends to close three local branches - and another 167 across the capital.

A formal announcement on Tuesday confirmed that offices at 272 Harrow Road, 12 Formosa Street in Warwick Avenue and 37 Lisson Grove are facing the axe.

There will now be a six-week consultation before the final decision is made and offices shut in April.


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But residents are furious at the proposals and have launched campaigns to try to stop the closures.

Sam Wainwright, a former deputy chairman of the Post Office who lives in Maida Vale, said: "I think it is disgusting that they want to close down the Formosa Street branch.

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"It is very well used - it does the same business an office twice its size would do.

"They say there is another one in St John's Wood but that is a mile away and uphill to walk.

"Formosa Street is already going downhill and the loss of the post office would make it even worse."

Westminster councillor Melvyn Caplan is angry that the closure comes only two years after the Clifton Road branch was shut.

He said: "We are extremely disappointed.

"One of the reasons they gave for closing Clifton Road was that the Formosa Street branch wasn't very far away. But if they close that one as well, where are residents supposed to go?"

Elizabeth Virgo from the Paddington Waterways and Maida Vale Society is rallying residents and encouraging everyone to write a letter of protest.

"I am very upset about Formosa Street," she said.

"I think that the powers that be are quite overlooking the necessity to build around communities.

"There is a real community in Formosa Street and these kinds of actions are so destructive. None of the other post offices are near enough or accessible enough.

"There are so many older people using Formosa Street who won't be able to go elsewhere. They can't walk two miles to St John's Wood and back.

"Life is closing in on people in a way that is quite disgraceful."

Other residents are outraged at proposals to close the Harrow Road branch which they say is a lifeline to the community.

Ahmed Hamid lives on the nearby Warwick Estate and is organising a petition to save the branch.

He said: "A lot of older people in the area use the Harrow Road post office during the week and there isn't another branch nearby.

"The nearest is Queensway which is too far and with the congestion charge it is very difficult for the community.

"Older people have to be cared for and the post office is the most important thing for many of them."

Margot Bright, who lives in Westbourne Park Villas, added: "This will be very hard on the local community.

"It is a very densely populated patch, with a lot of old people, large families with young children and above average numbers of people with restricted mobility who all rely on having that cluster of shops, medical services, post office, school and community facilities on their doorstep."

The Post Office's London network development manager Anita Turner said: "Taking the decision to close any post office 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.

"We believe these proposals offer the best prospect for a sustainable way forward in London, bearing in mind the minimum access criteria and the other factors to which we have to have regard for."

Westminster Council is holding talks with the Post Office on the feasibility of opening future outlets in its own buildings.

Councillor Tony Devenish, chairman of Westminster Council's dedicated post office task group, said: "I'm saddened at the savage cuts announced by the Post Office and believe that our proposals can offer a viable alternative.

"We are disappointed to hear the Westbourne Harrow Road and Lisson Grove branches are to close as it will hit some of our most vulnerable residents hard.

"The government thinks it doesn't matter if a post office closes as there's always another a mile or so away. But it's failing to grasp what it's like for our older or disabled residents who will struggle to access the same services elsewhere."

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.uk

Parties united in support

Labour Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg:

"There can be no justification for closing post offices which serve the residents of Westbourne, Little Venice and Church Street wards - all of have many elderly and vulnerable residents who need a local post office to deal with bills and their general financial affairs. Not everyone can do all their financial transactions by email or post and many people need easy access to a post office where there are staff to help and give advice."

Liberal Democrat Martin Thompson - lives near the Lisson Grove office

"Post Office bigwigs seem to have forgotten that people actually live here in central London. We need services, like post offices. The Liberal Democrats will fight these closures - just as we have fought to save post offices right across the country."

Conservative councillor Melvyn Caplan, Little Venice ward

"There won't be any branches left in Maida Vale and the people that will be worst affected will be the weak, the vulnerable and the elderly of which there are many in the area. They seem to have a desire to close the offices at whatever cost to the local community. We are going to make what representations we can and do everything we can to fight the closure.

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