March 10 2014 Latest news:
by Alisha Rouse
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The town hall has written to the government branding a Post Office plan to merge two branches into one as “a sham”.
The proposals to close the Highbury Corner and Upper Street branches and replace them with one new facility is currently under consultation, with shocked elderly residents saying they’re unable to walk to the new destination.
The letter from Islington Council to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, officially opposes the move and says Post Office plans will be “deeply damaging” for residents.
As reported by the Gazette in October, the council offered £750,000 towards a new branch at Highbury Corner, as well as a temporary home while the work was carried out, but were turned down by postal chiefs.
Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said: “Residents, especially older and disabled people, need a post office at Highbury Corner, and so do local businesses.”
“We have written to the Post Office rejecting their plan to close the branch and have offered support to help them build a new one. So far this has not been accepted.
“Now we are urging the Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of residents and make sure Highbury Corner gets the new post office the community badly needs.”
The potential closure has upset residents’ groups who claim elderly people will find it difficult to walk to the new branch.
George Durack, from the Islington Pensioners’ Forum, said: “Until you get older you don’t realise how hard it can be just to walk 100 yards.
“We are getting so used to cutting services and it is making life unbearable.”
The forum started its campaign in May at the start of the consultation, after a successful bid to keep the same Upper Street branch open in 1995.
The controversial proposal comes at a worrying time for the Post Office, as local branches close across the country and the company has appeared on the London Stock Exchange.
A Department for Business spokesperson said: “The Post Office is currently holding a public consultation on its proposals to merge the existing outdated branches at Highbury Corner and Upper Street into a new, state-of-the-art branch midway between the two.’’
A spokesman for the Post Office has said the changes would help save the £40million lost every year from crown office services. The consultation will run until December 27.