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Letter: To close Grantham post office is complete madness

11 Feb 2019, 14:10 ... s-9061515/

Like most residents of Grantham, I react with total disbelief at the complete madness of the decision to close the Post Office.

The present Post Office is in a prime location convenient to customers and staff alike, close to parking, is spacious with plenty of room for customers and staff to work in and is situated right next to the sorting office and the Royal Mail so that letters and parcels can be transferred easily from one location to the other.

This move means transferring the services to a retailer that has already closed 30 of its branches, which faces financial difficulty, where working conditions and pay are worse than in the Post Office and whose premises in the High Street are already overcrowded with hardly room for the stock that is there now.

The Post Office management justifies this move on the grounds of securing the ‘long-term viability’ of post services as if totally privatising services to a retailer WHSmith is the best way of safeguarding Post Office services for years to come. They provide no evidence for any of these claims.

As for the eight staff employed there is no doubt that uncertainty lies over their future.

Even with Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations they will effectively become employees of WH Smith where their pay and conditions will be worse. They may even face redundancy and new contracts where they could even face being on the minimum wage and be made to work part time.

The fact is that this is part of a nationwide policy to close down Post Offices that faces the opposition of the staff union the Communication Workers Union. Post Office management has earmarked a further 74 Government-run Crown Post Offices to close and franchise out by 2019, to WHSmith. The Post Office announced the closures only days after posting profits of around £35 million.

Grantham Post Office on St Peter's Hill is due to close next year. (5731046)Grantham Post Office on St Peter's Hill is due to close next year. (5731046)
By contrast, WHSmith has issued profit warnings and its future is not secure. Post Offices have already been totally lost after moving into shops which then closed. If staff agree to transfer to WHSmith, then TUPE Transfer law protections only apply to their terms and conditions for 90 days.

Nottingham nearby is a very busy Crown Post Office due to close and move into WHSmith in January.

Grantham, Mansfield and Solihull are also earmarked for closure in the Midlands. CWU members, have already protested there against the closure outside the Post Office on 1 December 2018. That date has also seen protests in cities and towns in every region of the UK, in the CWU defiant response to the Post Office announcement of the ‘franchising’ of 74 Crown offices to retailer WH Smith, impacting on some 7-800 jobs – marking a change in their strategy from managed decline to terminal decline.

Franchising is simply privatisation by the backdoor and we should all seriously oppose this move. There was no negotiation and no formal engagement with the CWU prior to the announcement of the privatisation.

This move will leave the remaining Crown offices extremely vulnerable. It is an outrage that this Government is allowing well rewarded jobs to go from a public service, handing them straight to a second-rate employer like WHSmith – recently rated as the worst retailer on the high street.

Stephen Diggines

Witham Place


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