Highbury Corner post office closure battle
PUBLISHED: 16:38 22 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 October 2010
THE battle is on to save one of Islington s biggest post offices from closure. Furious council chiefs say the Royal Mail has controversially pulled out of a long-standing agreement to build a new state-of-the-art post office branch at Highbury Corner.
THE battle is on to save one of Islington's biggest post offices from closure.
Furious council chiefs say the Royal Mail has controversially pulled out of a long-standing agreement to build a new state-of-the-art post office branch at Highbury Corner.
The scheme, part of a multi-million pound plan to redevelop the forecourt of Highbury & Islington Station in time for the 2012 Olympics, would see the current building demolished.
But in a leaked letter to Islington Council chief executive John Foster, Royal Mail bosses say they want to scrap their side of the deal - in favour of merging the current Highbury Corner and Upper Street post office branches into one.
Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council's executive member for planning and regeneration, said: "We've been very badly let down on two fronts. People in the middle of Islington are going to lose a post office, and the council have put a lot of time, effort and energy into this and still they blow us out. That's pretty bad form.
"It's not like they aren't used - most days of the week there are queues in both Highbury Corner and Upper Street. They deal with more people and more money than almost any other post offices in the country. There's no logic in it whatsoever."
A revamp of neighbouring Highbury Corner gyratory is on ice because of a lack of funds from Transport for London. But Islington Council insists the transformation of the station will still go ahead despite the post office hammer blow. Councillor Convery added: "We're not going to spend the money building a new post office if we don't have a customer. But we will make good our commitment to make a new public space."
Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of Islington's Liberal Democrat opposition, is due to meet the coalition Government's post office minister Ed Davey next week to oppose the merger plans after lobbying him at the Lib Dem party conference last weekend.
A spokesman for Post Office Ltd said the Royal Mail estate was "always under review" but that "no firm proposals or decisions have been made" on the future of Highbury Corner post office. Any changes would be put out to public consultation, he added.
Islington Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry both oppose any potential merger. A cross-party campaign successfully saved Essex Road post office from closure in 2008.