Islington pensioners and council take on Post Office over closure plans

Members of Islington Pensioners Forum at Highbury Corner Post Office with Cllrs Richard Watts, leade

Members of Islington Pensioners Forum at Highbury Corner Post Office with Cllrs Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council (second left) and James Murray, executive member of housing and development - Credit: Archant

Pensioners and the town hall chiefs are taking on the post office top brass over plans to shut two Islington post officers and replace them with a larger one.

The Islington Pensioner’s Forum (IPF) joined members of Islington Council’s ruling executive outside the Highbury Corner Branch yesterday morning in protest at plans to close it down.

The Post Office has opened a consultation into plans to scrap it, along with the Upper Street branch, and replace them with a larger one in-between the current sites, which critics say would be a big loss.

George Durack from the IPF said: “The proposal seems bizarre considering the number of people that use those branches.

“Lets get it right – the post office is a public service, or that’s how people see it. They get used to going a small distance to their local branch. This merger will cause real problems, particularly for older people.

“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.

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“We are not a poor country, we’re wealth and we can afford to keep things going.”

The council have written to the Post Office asking them to build a new branch on Highbury Corner in addition to the proposed new site, offering a temporary home until the new branch is built as well as £750,000 towards the work.

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said: “Our residents really value having a Post Office at Highbury Corner. Closure would be very inconvenient for residents and businesses, especially older and disabled people.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “It’s time now for the Post Office to do the right thing by Islington’s residents, and replace its Highbury Corner branch, instead of cutting the number of postal counters in Islington.”

Post office bosses say the merger is needed because both of the current sites are loss making and the lease is due to expire on one of them.

A Post Office spokesman said: “The Post Office is currently engaging with Islington Council, who have made a number of suggestions with regard to the future of Post Office services in the area, specifically the proposal to establish a new Post Office on Upper Street in Islington by merging the current Islington Post Office and Highbury Post Office service.

“The Post Office is absolutely committed to maintaining high levels of services for people in the area.”

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, is holding an adjournment debate in Parliament on Islington post offices on Tuesday at 11am.

The Post Office’s consultation will run until December 27.