Fight stepped up to save our post offices

PUBLISHED: 17:21 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:59 12 August 2010

HUNDREDS of residents queued to sign petitions against Post Office closures last Saturday. In just two hours, 500 people at Albermarle Road Post

HUNDREDS of residents queued to sign petitions against Post Office closures last Saturday.

In just two hours, 500 people at Albermarle Road Post Office in Beckenham signed a petition against its closure.

Under proposals, the Albemarle Road Post Office will close along with branches at Walden Road, Chislehurst, Carlton Parade and Crofton Lane, Orpington and Pratt's Bottom, Orpington.

Tom Papworth, the Liberal Democrat councillor who set up the petition, said: "There was an amazing show of support for the campaign to save our post offices.

"People were actually standing by, waiting to sign as others put their names down.

"The post office is an important centre of the community. The people of Beckenham rely on their post office to access vital services."

There is currently a consultation on the closures, after the Post Office announced proposals to close 171 branches in February.

Bromley councillors unanimously supported a motion tabled by Mr Papworth opposing the closures at a council meeting on Monday night.

Other threatened post offices are in neighbouring borough Greenwich, where five branches including a Crown Post Office in Woolwich are to close alongside two more in Bexley.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has promised to take the post office to court over the widespread London closures because the six-week consultation is half the recommended government length.

He said: "It simply defies logic to close post offices when London is expanding.

"If Post Office Ltd are allowed to get away with these savage cuts to the service the biggest losers will be the most disadvantaged Londoners. I simply won't let the most disadvantaged in London lose this vital service without a fight.

"That is why I began legal proceedings against the post office. I hope the courts will force Post Office Ltd to conduct a more thorough consultation with Londoners and reconsider their closure programme."

Greenwich councillor John Fahy, who leads Greenwich council's opposition to the Post Office closures, said: "They are clearly not interested in the views of people they have served over many years or in the views of the public sector."

Bexley council leader Ian Clement said: "We shouldn't just give up fighting, but there is clearly an agenda here. The important thing is that people respond to the consultation robustly."

The consultation is due to finish on April 2 but the announcement of the cuts won't be made until June.

A spokesman for the Post Office said the consultation period was chosen by the government and that no final decisions had been made.

He added: "The Post Office is implementing the Government's closure decision as sensitively and fairly as possible.

"We're doing all we can to ensure the most accessible branch network within the funding available from government.

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