IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Stripping post offices to bone’: Union slams close of Archway branch

Bosses accused of ignoring the public by shutting Archway branch after ‘sham consultation’

29 March, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

January protest against the post office closure

POST Office chiefs have been criticised for “stripping services to the bone” after announcing that the branch in Archway will close.

The Crown post office in Junction Road will move into the rear of a Today’s Extra store on the same road in May, it was announced on Wednesday after a six-week consultation.

Islington residents and members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) staged a protest outside the post office in January. Hundreds signed a petition opposing the closure.

Union rep Clive Ticker told the Tribune: “It was a sham consultation. The Post Office had no interest in listening to views of the public. We have lost the Holloway Road post office, then the one in Highbury Corner and now this one. They are stripping our services down to the bone.”

Crown post offices in Holloway, Finsbury Park, Crouch End, Swiss Cottage, East Finchley and Harringay have all closed in recent years despite huge pressure from residents to keep them open.

Mr Ticker said: “They are not taking into consideration what the public wants. They don’t realise what a community asset it is. For elderly residents,  sometimes it is the only interaction they have with other people.”

Eight members of staff at the Archway branch will have to take a redundancy package or move to another branch, according to Mr Ticker.

Islington Council business chief Councillor Asima Shaikh said: “We’re extremely disappointed that Post Office Ltd are pressing ahead with their plans to relocate the busy Upper Holloway post office, despite us raising our concerns about the negative impact their plans could have on residents and staff.”

She added: “I will be writing to Post Office Ltd to seek reassurances that other branches that serve our community in Isling- ton will not face closure.”

The Archway branch is set to shut at 5.30pm on Wednesday, May 1, with the new branch opening at 9am the next day.

There will not be a Post Office cash machine at the new site or self-serve kiosks.

The nearest branch providing DVLA photocard driving licence renewals and Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence application services will be Kentish Town post office.

Crown post offices are directly owned and managed by the Post Office, a publicly-owned body which has faced huge cuts by the government in recent years.

These cuts have prompted the emergence of franchised post offices in newsagents and stationery shops throughout the country.

Post Office network and sales director Roger Gale said: “The Post Office is not immune to the pressures facing all retailers. We must respond to the unprecedented change taking place on high streets and adapt to changing customer needs.

“We would like to reassure all our customers in Upper Holloway that they would still be able to pick up their pensions, buy stamps, collect and return home shopping or access their usual high street bank account, in just the same way as they do at present.

“Additionally, the branch would be open longer, including on Sun- days, making it more convenient for customers.”

He added: “We are not making these changes to Upper Holloway post office lightly – but we need to make them if we are to ensure that

branches like Upper Holloway remain at the heart of towns and cities, not just in the short term but for the long term too.”

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