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Post office chiefs accused of ‘cutting off their nose to spite our face’ in Parliamentary debate

PUBLISHED: 14:33 31 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:06 04 November 2013

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn

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Post office chiefs were accused of cutting of their nose to spite people’s faces as fears over closures in Islington entered the UK’s corridors of power.

Post office chiefs were accused of cutting of their nose to spite people’s faces as fears over closures in Islington entered the UK’s corridors of power.

MP Jeremy Corbyn called a debate in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to discuss the future of the borough’s Post Office’s, including a plan to merge the Highbury Corner and Upper Street branches.

He also questioned Post Office claims that the Holloway Road branch, which could be closed and moved into an existing shop, loses £215,000 a year in property costs, when the London Bridge branch, in central London, only loses £109,000.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, the Islington North MP said: “[The Holloway Road branch] is a very busy building, and queues frequently come out of the door on to the street.

“Bizarrely, the Post Office claims that that branch loses money, which is hard to see when the building is completely full the whole time. “

He added: “I have a constant frustration on meeting with the Post Office: a lack of imagination and ambition for the development of the post office network. It seems to have an agenda of closing down branches and diminishing the network.”

Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, said Islington Council had offered the Post Office £2million to rebuild the temporary Highbury Corner site, but “in its wisdom, Post Office turned that offer down”.

She said: “How much more can it try to destroy its business than it has done over the past five or 10 years in Islington? If I sound fed up, you should hear what my constituents have to say.

“People already queue outside in the rain at both Highbury Corner and Upper street post offices,” she added. “People do not go to the post office because they do not have 45 minutes to queue. The Post Office is cutting off its nose to spite our face. It must get a grip and show some leadership and vision must get a grip and show some vision.”

MP Jo Swinson, under secretary of state for postal affairs, replied: “We all know that there is heightened local concern following the previous closure programmes in 2003 and 2008.

She added: “People do not have 45 minutes to stand in a queue at a post office. That is why some of the changes we are making, including longer opening hours, should help to put the Post Office on a much firmer and more sustainable footing.“

Miss Swinson was unable to say unable to say how much money the Post Office got when it sold the Upper Street branch and sorting office, but confirmed that even if no buyer came in for the Holloway Branch, “the Post Office will not be able just to get rid of the existing post office – it would not be possible for it to do that”.

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

The consultation on the Highbury Corner and Upper Street merger will run until December 27.


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