Emily Thornberry leads outcry as Post Office Ltd reveals plans to franchise Old Street branch

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry. Photograph: PA.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry. Photograph: PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Emily Thornberry has condemned plans to close the Old Street post office and reopen it inside a Co-op up the road as “partial privatisation”.

The Post Office Ltd is running a public consultation on the move but doesn't want feedback on its plans to the frachise the store, which it considers a "commercial decision".

The consultation runs until October 2, with the Post Office planning to reopen its franchised store in January 2020.

Post Office chief's argue this will allow the company to extend opening hours, including opening on the weekend - but union members fear the move will dilute workers rights, threaten their pensions and lower customer standards.

Shadow foreign secretary and Islington South and Finsbury leader Emily Thornberry said: "This is another example of partial privatisation - the Post Office seeking to save money at the expense of poor and vulnerable customers, who will be inconvenienced by this change."

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Communication Workers Union area rep for north London Clive Tickner told the Gazette: "It's absolutely awful. The other thing is in the early 2000s we had two post offices in Old Street. It's just decimating the north London city area."

This follows an outcry from trade unionists and Islington politicians earlier this year when the Post Office Ltd franchised its Upper Holloway branch into the Today Extra store further up Junction Road.

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In recent years the Finsbury Park post office has also been franchised and the Highbury Corner branch was closed.

Cllr Troy Gallagher (Lab, Bunhill) said: "I'm very disappointed to hear of this proposal. I'm looking forward to reminding developers that Bunhill is not their playground. The local post office has been at the heart of the community for years providing essential services and friendly conversation. All this down sizing in the name of convenience isn't in the best interests or residents but of [Post Office Ltd]."

His fellow ward councillor Phil Graham added: "I'm not happy at all. It's a main post office where there is always queues because it supplies a great service to the area. I have already been in touch with the CWU and will be standing shoulder to shoulder with them.

Post Office's head of the directly managed branch network Steve Blampied said: "The vast majority of our 11,500 post offices, large and small, are successfully operated on a franchise basis with retail partners. We believe this is the best approach to keeping post offices in main shopping locations and at the heart of communities where they play an important role in local economies. [...]

"We believe our proposal is the most effective way to secure the long term viability of Post Office services for years to come."

Have your say by email at comments@postoffice.co.uk, or visit postofficeviews.co.uk and use the branch code 028003

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