CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Post Office to downsize in Camden Town despite public objections

Claims consultation survey was a 'sham' after relocation to stationary shop is approved

03 January, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Packed Camden High Street post office this week

THE Post Office is to press on with plans to downsize its Camden High Street branch despite an absence of obvious public support in its consultation survey.

It has provided a summary report of the 113 responses, which concedes concerns were raised and makes little mention of any positive feedback. Services are to move into the back of a nearby stationery shop, UOE, later this month.

Customers voiced concern about disabled acc­ess, the size of the new premises and queues. When the New Journal visited the Camden Town post office this week, it was packed with customers queuing.

John Gaby, of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), told the New Journal: “The consultation is a sham. Every time we have gone through a consultation procedure it has led to closure or privatising. It is not genuine.”

The post office will see its publicly-owned Crown status surrendered to a new franchise operation two doors away. It will lose its biometric enrolment service for visa applications.

Garrie Bond, of the CWU, said: “It is a huge disappointment for staff. They can’t believe what the company is doing to them and they are upset about what the future holds for them. It means bigger bonuses for those at the top whereas the new workers will be on low wages. It’s public money, but they are just doing whatever they want to do.”

He added: “They are losing staff who have years of experience. The new staff will need to learn on the job and service will no doubt get slower. They won’t have as many counters open, which may mean queues get worse and in turn service gets worse.”

Post Office sales and trade marketing director Roger Gale, referring to the consultation, said: “Some feedback express­ed concern about the change of the branch to one run by a retail partner, with comments focusing on the size of the proposed new premises, the level of service that would be provided, potential congestion at the new branch and the busy nature of the current branch. Other responses focused on the consultation process itself, as well as the impact of the move on the community.”

A Post Office spokes­man said that “having taken into account all the feedback we received” it had decided to proceed with plans to move the branch.

He added: “We are not immune to the challenges facing retailers in high streets. We must adapt to changing customer needs by making our services more accessible, for instance through longer opening hours. “In Camden, the new branch will now be open seven days a week, making it easier for customers to visit at a time that suits them. We look forward to welcoming customers to the new branch in January.” The branch will transfer to a temporary operator in January while UOE prepares to take over from March.

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