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Post Office chiefs face Assembly grilling over closures

PUBLISHED: 13:31 11 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:06 05 October 2010

save our Post Offices campaign 21.2.08

save our Post Offices campaign 21.2.08

POST Office chiefs were being grilled today (Wednesday) by the London Assembly over the threat to close 169 outlets across the capital. The 'hit list' of sub post office closures which has brought a wave of protest from community groups, pensioners organisations and MPs is part of a PO restructure to tackle financial losses

By Mike Brooke

POST Office chiefs were being grilled today (Wednesday) by the London Assembly over the threat to close 169 outlets across the capital.

The 'hit list' of sub post office closures which has brought a wave of protest from community groups, pensioners' organisations and MPs in East London and elsewhere is part of a Post Office 'restructuring' programme to tackle financial losses.

But Assembly members are demanding to know how and why the 169 branches were chosen.

They also want to know if any further rounds of closures are on the cards and if the closures will make the Post Office more financially stable or profitable.

Two Post Office bosses will be cross-examined by the Assembly's public services committee, Post Office network planning manager Nick Beale and area panning advisor Ketul Patel.

Also at the meeting to answer questions are Greater London Postwatch regional manager Terry Stafford, London Councils chairman Merrick Cockell, National Federation of Sub Postmasters general secretary George Thomson and Help the Aged's Dr Alan Burnett.

The 3.30pm meeting can be viewed live by webcast at:

http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/webcasts.jsp

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LATEST ON THE ADVERTISER CAMPAIGN TRAIL...

By Michael Parker

THE East London Advertiser is running a campaign to save the sub post offices in the East End that are under threat, a fifth of the outlets across Tower Hamlets.

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?

Join the Advertiser's online campaign:

petition

You can also tell the Post Office what you think. Jot a line to Anita Turner, Network Development Manager, c/o National Consultation Team, Freepost Consultation Team;

Or by phone on 08457-223344;

Or emailing consultation@postoffice.co.uk

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HIDDEN DANGER OF PO CLOSURES...

PENSIONERS face 'running the gauntlet' every week if they are forced to walk further to post offices carrying their pension and benefits cash through crime-infested housing estates.

For many using the threatened sub post offices, keeping their local outlet open is about safety, not just convenience.

Disabled Peter Harrison, 59, lives near the Heylyn Square sub post office in Bow and has trouble walking.

"One of the reasons I moved here is that the post office is nearby," he tells the Advertiser.

"Anyone having to walk to Roman-road main post office from here has to go through Tom Thumb's Arch (under the Liverpool St main line railway).

"It will be a muggers' paradise once the 'herberts' realise people are walking through with their pensions."

At Millwall's Quarterdeck sub post office, Barkantine Estate residents' board chairman Fred Quatromini is in defiant mood.

"Last time the post office was threatened we got up a campaign, collected 2,000 signatures and brought in our MP Jim Fitzpatrick," he says.

"Jim's already started his campaign, apparently, but seeing as he was Post Office Minster and is partly behind the closures, that seems a bit hypocritical to me."

Tower Hamlets Tory Opposition councillor Shirley Houghton, whose ward includes Millwall, put 3,000 leaflets out earlier this month and was doorstepping the neighbourhood last weekend.

At Devons Road sub post office in Bow Common, where the nearest alternative would be Bromley-by-Bow or Poplar, the Lincoln Estate residents' association chairman Graham Mantle is busy whipping up support.

"A lot of people round here don't have bank accounts," he tells you.

"So the post office is how they sort their money. It has a cash machine too, the only one around here."

The catchment area is huge, he points out, stretching east to the A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach and west right along St Paul's Way, with an estimated 2,000 households.

The manager of the Fern Street Settlement pensioners' club, Pat Burton, collects pensions for four old folk who can't make it themselves, including Maud who's 92.

"They're angry and upset about the closures," says Pat. "MP Jim is getting a strongly-worded letter from me."

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You can also join the Advertiser's online campaign to help save your post office by clicking here:

petition

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