City Hall challenges Government over post office closures

THE London Assembly has condemned the planned closure next month of 155 Post Offices across the capital, warning that communities are being stripped of an essential service. Assembly Members of all parties today (Wednesday) unanimously backed a resolution calling on the Government and the Post Office to rethink their “shortsighted policy” over scrapping neighbourhood outlets

<By Mike Brooke

THE London Assembly has condemned the planned closure next month of 155 Post Offices across the capital — warning that communities are being stripped of an essential service.

Assembly Members of all parties today (Wednesday) unanimously backed a resolution calling on the Government and Post Office to rethink their “shortsighted policy” over scrapping neighbourhood outlets, which include 18 in East London in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham.

“Almost one-in-five have been discarded in this latest savage round of cuts,” Assembly member Richard Barnes told today’s meeting.

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“This is depriving hundreds of thousands of Londoners of vital local services.

“The closure of high street post offices undermines others striving to provide local facilities.

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“It also removes an important focal point which brings communities together.”

The campaign to blunt the axe appears all but lost, after the Government narrowly won a Commons vote two months ago to push ahead with the closures which are due next month.

Yet the fight is far from over. Assembly members are unanimously backing Mayor Boris Johnson’s legal challenge started by his predecessor now going to the High Court, in a rare show of cross-party unity at City Hall.

Assembly member Joanne McCartney said: “The Post Office battle is still one that is worth fighting because the consequences of closures will be widespread.”

The motion minces no words in its blunt message to Downing Street.

It says: “This Assembly condemns the decision to close the 156 post offices in London following a cosmetic consultation exercise where the real views of Londoners were ignored and the results largely predetermined.

“It also condemns the short-sighted policies of the Labour Government that have lead to this move which this Assembly believes will have disastrous consequences for communities across the capital.”

The Assembly is now making representations to the Government and Post Office Limited calling on them to rethink their policy and calls on Postwatch to oppose the entire process with vigour.

Postwatch, the consumers’ watchdog, was heavily criticized by the Assembly when public consultations began in March for being a lapdog’ and accepting the programme of cuts.

The resolution adds: “The Assembly believes that post offices are an essential part of the community and should be fully supported.

“We invite the new Mayor to follow through on the initiative proposed by his predecessor Ken Livingstone, to continue with the legal challenge and explore alternative funding including possible GLA funds for post offices under threat.”

It then lists all 155 High Street outlets due to close next month. These include five in Tower Hamlets in E1, E3 and E14, at:

75, Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel,

Watney Street, Shadwell,

Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow,

Heylyn Square, Bow, and

The Quarterdeck, Millwall.

Seven more face closure in neighbouring Hackney at:

Murray Grove, Hoxton

Cassland Road, Hackney Wick

Wilton Way, Hackney

235, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton

Chatsworth Road, Lower Clapton

Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, and

Blackstock Road, Manor House.

Others facing closure in East London include six in Newham:

Portway, West Ham

Romford Road, Stratford

Field Road, Forest Gate

High Street, Plaistow,

Katherine Road, Upton Park, and

Barking Road, Plaistow

The remaining 136 post offices across London are: Bennetts Castle La, Broad St, Dollis Valley, Potters Rd, Childs Hill, East Finchley, High Rd (435), Nether St, Pennine Pde, Watford Wy, Brampton Rd, Foots Cray, Cricklewood, Court Pde, Roe Grn, Brentfield Est, Harrow Rd (1,000), Stonebridge Pk, Albemarle Rd, Walden Rd, Carlton Pde, Crofton La, Pratts Bottom, Englands La, Hampstead Hth, Highgate High St, Crowndale Rd, High St (298), Bensham La (104), Central Hill, Selhurst Rd, South Streatham, The Parade, Chipstead Valley Rd (217), Greenford Grn, The Avenue, Boileau Pde, Churchfield Rd, Haven Grn, Norwood Grn, Park Pde, Town Rd, Chase Side, Freezywater, Green St, Hadley Wood, Palmers Grn, High St Eltham, Plumstead Common Rd, Bostal Hill, Blackheath Hill, Woolwich Rd, Askew Rd, Goldhawk Rd, Fulham Rd, Alexandra Park Rd, Ferme Park Rd, Salisbury Rd, Weston Pk, West Green Rd (434), Buckingham Rd, Headstone Rd, Headstone Gds, Pinner Grn, The Hill, Hylands, Gobions, Camborne Ave, Emerson Pk, Woodhall Pde, Bath Rd, Cranford Pde, Uxbridge Rd, High St, Ickenham Rd, Moorfield Rd, Uxbridge Com, Chiswick High Rd, Old Isleworth, Park Ave, Caledonian Rd (100), Caledonian Rd (492), Ladbroke Gro, Stratford Rd, Burlington Rd, Hook Rise, Norbiton Com, Plough Grn, Surbiton Pk, Chestnut Gro, Abbeville Rd, Streatham Pl, Acre La (154), Clapham High St, Hither Grn La, Lee Nr Station, New Cross Rd, Green La, Sherwood Pk Rd, Coombe La (350), Wimbledon High St, Woodside Pde, Woodford Nr Church, Fencepiece Rd, Hainault, Woodford Ave, Meads La, Broad St, Cambridge Pde, The Common, Melbourne Gro, Nunhead Nr Station, Old Kent Rd, Peckham Rd, Dockhead, East St, Ilderton Rd, Maddock Wy, Bishopsford Rd, Carshalton Rd, Gander Grn La, Mitcham Junc, Wrythe La, Coventry Pde, Grove Grn Rd, Leyton Grn, Battersea Pk Rd (268), New Covent Gdn, 209 Lwr Richmond Rd, Putney Bridge Rd (279), Balham High Rd, Garratt La, Mitcham La (274), Trinity Rd, Leinster Ter, Harrow Rd, Lisson Gro, Ludgate Cir Crown Post Office.

The resolution “further notes with alarm” the threat of closure still hangs over seven more branches which were on the original hit’ list but are now being reviewed.’ These are Bollo Bridge Rd, Chingford Rd, Forest Rd, Gipsy Rd, Masterman Rd, Orford Rd and Formosa St.


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