http://islingtontribune.com/article/arc ... they-serve
Public consultations labelled a ‘sham’ amid claims decision to axe branch is ‘already made’
Protesters demonstrating last week outside Archway post office which has been earmarked for closure
JUST three out of 10 Crown Post Offices remain unchanged following a public consultation leading critics to say the whole process is a “sham”.
Upper Holloway post office, by Archway tube station, has been earmarked for closure by Post Offices Ltd with the public consultation document distributed to customers admitting a “decision to proceed will have already been made”.
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.
A Freedom of Information request made to Post Office Ltd by the Islington Tribune revealed that there have been 208 public consultations over the future of post offices throughout the country in the past five years.
But just 61 remained unchanged following the consultation – a conversion rate of 70 per cent. These post offices were either closed, franchised, merged or relocated.
The “public consultation” document circulated to post office customers ahead of a closure have been labelled “farcical” by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
Steve Jones, national executive member for the CWU, said: “The consultation is an utter sham. People are conned into believing there’s an opportunity to change the decision but it’s already been made on board level. If a post office isn’t franchised after a public consultation it’s not because of residents opposing it, it’s usually because the contract with a potential franchisee has fallen through. Post Office Ltd isn’t listening to what the public want.”
Mr Jones added: “The fact that the public have only been given six weeks’ notice of the Upper Holloway Crown Office closure is an utter disgrace. Clearly the Post Office have no interest in the people and community they serve – we will continue to fight these closures until the bitter end.”
The CWU say that if the franchise shop fails there will be no post office in the area. Workers also have fewer rights in a franchised store than they would have in a post office. The Tribune previously reported how the franchise owner of the Seven Sisters Road shop admitted that he would pay his staff the minimum wage.
Post Office Ltd has suffered huge cuts from central government in recent years. The government provided £210million of financial support to the Post Office in 2012 but this figure was slashed to just £50million this year.
There are plans to move services in Archway to a franchised store in a nearby newsagent in Junction Road which will have fewer counters but longer working hours.
A protest outside the Upper Holloway Post Office last Saturday saw hundreds of people sign a petition calling for the decision to move the shop to be reversed.
A Post Office spokeswoman said: “All of the feedback we collect is carefully considered and will absolutely shape our final decision when it comes to the plans to move the branch.
“It is true that we are not consulting on the principle of franchising the branch, as this is a commercial decision – and we believe it is the right one in order to sustain post office services in the local community for the long term. However, that does not mean that any final decisions have been made.”