CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

A key service is under attack, so where is Momentum?

02 August, 2018

THE Post Office, like the British high street, has been dying a slow death for several years now.

Rents and rates in Camden are astronomical – so high that units are regularly left empty for more than a year.

Waitrose is jumping ship next month. If the big chains cannot make a large high street unit profitable, how can the Post Office?

The writing has been on the wall for the Post Office ever since 2012 – when the retail service was separated from the mailing service in the forced sale masterminded by Vince Cable.

Since then managers have tried to bring in controversial operating models. It has been a process of transformation that sounded the death knell for big town centre post offices like Camden.

In 2012, the Post Office announced plans to franchise 70 of its 370 Crown offices. This was effectively a 20 per cent cut to the entire network but the government promised that no offices would be closed. It then pushed ahead with a controversial mutualisation – the transfer of the company’s stock to its employers.

Last year, 37 flagship Crown offices were axed along with 300 staff.

Will Camden’s flagship Crown service end up like the Swiss Cottage post office that was squeezed into the back of WH Smith’s a few doors away?

It is barely more than six months since, without a hint of irony, the government proudly announced the Post Office had moved into profit for the first time in 16 years. Its chief executive stated that it was “better placed than ever to embrace the future”.

In truth, there has been a slash and burn approach to jobs in recent years. Far from modernising the network, its custodians have been managing its decline. The public and long-serving staff will no doubt suffer through all of this.

Electricity and gas were once well-run nationalised industries that made profit and gave a better than expected customer service. Look what has happened to them. The Post Office is going the same way.

Unions cannot be expected to campaign solely against the tidal wave of privatisation and cutbacks. They need the support of a political machine.

Where is Labour’s Momentum – the supposedly radical arm of the party?

When it comes to parochial matters, like the closure of Camden Town’s main post office, does it get involved? Is it interested in the community it insists it is here to represent?

The Labour Party has in some ways became a party that is mainly obsessed with managing itself. The Chalcots is a classic example of this. Where were the real public meetings about that?

Where was the campaigning with the community?

You might expect such a silence from the Conservative Party, but from Labour?

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