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Mayor taking PO to court over closures after Labour MPs' rebellion

PUBLISHED: 16:44 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 05 October 2010

save our Post Offices campaign 21.2.08

save our Post Offices campaign 21.2.08

THE Mayor of London is planning to take the Post Office to court over the closure threat to 169 sub post offices across the capital. The threat from Ken Livingstone comes in an open letter to the East London Advertiser

By Mike Brooke

THE Mayor of London is taking the Post Office to court over the closure threat to 169 sub post offices across the capital.

The move by Ken Livingstone is revealed in a letter to the East London Advertiser in which he states: "I hope the courts will force Post Office Ltd to conduct a more thorough consultation with Londoners and reconsider their closure programme."

His fury follows Labour MPs staging a failed rebellion in the Commons on March 19 in the debate to try and stop the closures.

The 19 rebels, including several former ministers, voted for a Tory Opposition resolution to suspend the move.

But the resolution was narrowly defeated by the Government.

Shadow Tory Business Secretary Alan Duncan told the press afterwards: "The hunt will now be on for those Labour MPs who pretended to support their local post office, then do a 'runner' when they had the chance to make a real difference.

"The debate has exposed the deceit of the MPs who pretend to support their constituents, then say something completely different at Westminster."

The 2,600 closures nationwide, 169 in London, could affect the outcome of the May 1 London Assembly and Mayor elections, with Labour's Ken Livingstone now under pressure and trailing in the opinion polls behind Tory challenger Boris Johnson.

Livingstone has been quick to distance himself from the Government's closure plans, ironically in the very week Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to East London to join his campaign trail for Mayor when they both addressed a meeting in the Isle of Dogs.

"The high street is vital to the life of most communities in London and one of the shops we all take for granted in is the post office," Livingstone says in his letter to the Advertiser.

"Royal Mail announced it would close 171 post offices across London.

"I'm going to fight them, which is why I am taking the Post Office to court.

"Since I first came to office in 2000, nearly half London's post offices have been closed while at the same time the number of people to each post office has increased nearly 80 per cent.

"If Post Office Ltd is allowed to get away with these savage cuts to the service, the biggest losers will be the most disadvantaged, the elderly, the disabled and those who pick up benefits and child support.

"I simply won't let them lose this vital service without a fight.

"That is why I began legal proceedings this week against the Post Office and hope the courts will make them conduct a more thorough consultation and reconsider their closure programme."

The Advertiser's own online campaign continues, despite last week's Commons defeat.

click here

The previous week saw the London Assembly condemn the axing of 169 outlets in London alone, including five in the East End.

The CWU postal workers' union national officer Andy Furey insisted: "This vital public asset can no longer be neglected. Post offices play an integral role in front-line Government services and provide social functions to communities."

The Assembly resolution also criticised Greater London Postal Watch, the public watchdog, for accepting the principal of closures.

Assembly member Richard Barnes, who tabled the resolution, said: "It beggars belief that when it comes to the closure programme, Postwatch is behaving like a lapdog rather than a watchdog."

The Assembly's resolution "condemns the Labour Government policy that will see the closure of all local post offices."

The 169 London post offices on the 'hit list' include five in Tower Hamlets serving communities from Whitechapel to the Isle of Dogs.

They are at:

75, Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel, E1

Watney Street, Shadwell, E1

Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow, E3

Heylyn Square, Bow, E3; and

The Quarterdeck, Millwall, E14.

Do you think our sub post officers should be closed?

click here

You can also tell the Post Office what you think.

Write to: Anita Turner, Network Development Manager, c/o National Consultation Team, Freepost Consultation Team;

Or phone: 08457-223344;

Or email: consultation@postoffice.co.uk

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