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Shock as busy Archway post office faces closure

It’s a shame, say customers angered by move to franchised shop

11 January, 2019 — By Emily Finch and Nicole Garcia Merida

Junction Road post office: ‘It’s busy’

A MOVE to downsize a major post office has sparked anger from regulars, who fear loss of services and longer queues.

The Crown post office near Archway Station will be moved into a franchised shop under plans revealed this week.

It follows a series of downsizing operations by the Post Office in other areas of north London.

In each case, consultation surveys and public opposition have not blocked the plans.

Charlotte Brunskill, who lives nearby, said: “I was quite shocked to find out it’s closing. I use it all the time and every time I use it, it’s busy.

“I’ve lived in the area for about 20 years and it’s always been the post office we use. I’ve never seen it empty so I don’t know why it’s closing. It’s a shame.”

When the Tribune visited the Junction Road post office this week, long queues of customers were waiting to post parcels and exchange money.

Regular customer Veloshni Naicker explained how the post office was crucial to the running of  her online business. She said: “I come here every other day if not every day.”

One Post Office worker, who did not give a name, was “concerned” for the future. “They said they’ll transfer me to another post office, but what if that one is far away or it closes? What will happen to me then?” the worker said.

Post office customers were backed by members of the Communication Workers Union, who high­lighted how there may no longer be a post office in the area if the franchise store later folds.

CWU sector rep Peter Meech told the Tribune: “The closure will be bad for everybody. It’s not only bad for workers but for the community because what happens is that you get minimum staff at the franchise on low wages, less counters, a longer waiting time and you don’t always get the services you want.”

Crown post offices, such as the Junction Road branch, are directly owned and managed by the Post Office, a publicly-owned body.

The government provided £210m of financial support to the Post Office in 2012, but the figure was slashed to just £50m this year, prompting a fresh wave of franchising to raise funds.

Mr Meech added: “We would rather the Post Office remains publicly owned, which is far better for the country and the community. Workers have better rights.”

He warned that a high street which loses its post office sees significantly less footfall, with far fewer customers visiting shops.

“The government should be supporting the local high street,” he said.

CWU executive member Steve Jones added: “There is clearly an issue of losing scores of experienced staff. New replacement staff will be on poverty minimum wages, which are around half the union- negotiated rate.”

There are eight counters at the existing branch, which will drop to five at the proposed new location in Today’s Express at 55 Junction Road. There may also not be a cash machine at the new store. It is not known if the new branch will offer financial advice services in a separate room.

The Finsbury Park post office was franchised two years ago despite huge opposition from residents.

A Post Office spokes­woman reassured residents they would be “able to pick up their pensions, buy stamps, collect and return home shopping or access their usual high street bank account, in just the same way as they do at present”.

A consultation ends February 20. “No final decisions will be made until we have reviewed and considered all the feedback we receive,” the spokeswoman said. Branch staff were being supported through the changes, she added.

Comments on the plans can be made by emailing comments@postoffice.co.uk or calling 03452 66 01 15.

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