Call for plaques to stay in public

The two memorials inside the Cambridge Road branch
The two memorials inside the Cambridge Road branch

MEMORIALS commemorating Post Office staff who died in both world wars may be moved to a new home if the town’s main branch closes.

The two plaques are on public display inside the Cambridge Road branch and could be moved to the Royal Mail sorting office in Braybrooke Road next year if the former is shut down under reorganisation.

The town centre post office is one of 70 Crown branches, directly owned by the Post Office, that could close or relocate within a store.

Bosses at Post Office Ltd have put forward proposals to shut the Cambridge Road branch and move it to WH Smith in Priory Meadow. If the plans get the go-ahead the post office could move by next spring.

Historian Andy Saunders, from Westfield, who is also a freelance writer and researcher specialising in military aviation history, has condemned the possible relocation of the memorials as ‘insulting’ to the war dead.

He said: “I think this is wholly inappropriate in terms of the proposed new siting for the memorials.

“I think it is both insulting and disrespectful to relegate its location in this manner, especially bearing in mind that next year, 2014, sees the centenary of the commencement of the First World War.

“Evidently the memorials’ location at WH Smith would be inconvenient.

“The Post Office is already demonstrating a singular lack of concern for the residents of Hastings in regards to the Post Office relocation.

“Now, it is demonstrating indifference to the commemoration of the Post Office war dead, with commercial interests overriding any concerns for those who gave their lives.

“The prominent display of these memorials at the new WH Smith site is the only acceptable solution, however ‘inconvenient’ it might be.”

A petition signed by almost 7,000 people protesting against the possible closure of the town centre post office was presented to Post Office bosses last month by Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings.

The Cambridge Road post office opened in February 1930 after three years of building.

Syeda Hasnain, spokeswoman for Post Office Ltd, said: “General Post Office employees played a significant role in the war effort during both world wars, and Royal Mail and the Post Office are proud to have the responsibility of maintaining our memorials to those members of the General Post Office who served their country.

“There are two memorials at Hastings Post Office.

“These were originally displayed at the Hastings Delivery Office. If the proposed move of Hastings Post Office takes place they would be returned to their original site at the Hastings Delivery Office, in Braybrooke Road with access available to the public.

“We would of course ensure that people are made aware of any changes and that any move is handled with the utmost care and respect for the memorials and the people named upon them.” A decision is expected to be made in the new year.