Campaigners hold third demonstration

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PROTESTORS held another demonstration in town on Friday (March 15) to campaign against the possible closure of Hastings’ main post office.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents staff at the Crown branch in Cambridge Road, organised the event outside Costa Coffee in the town centre.

It was the third such event to be held in recent weeks.

More than 3,500 people have now signed several petitions, both paper and online.

The outlet is among 70 Crown branches, which are owned directly by the Post Office, that may shut and ‘partner’ with nearby stores such as WH Smith. Staff would be based at postal desks within the store.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd, who has set up a petition, this week met with Martine Munby, senior stakeholder manager at the Post Office.

She said: “The Post Office remains essential to local businesses and residents in Hastings. At the meeting I made clear the real value of the Cambridge Road branch and the strong feeling in the town for it to remain as it is.”

An online petition has also been set up by Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings.

She said: “Despite the cold wind and rain on Friday, people were queuing to talk to us and sign our petition to stop the Hastings Post Office closing its doors for good. It is clear that when local postal services are lost it has a negative impact on businesses, customers and the local community.”

Ruth Barker, spokeswoman for the Post Office, said: “Crown Post Office branches are losing £40 million per year and must be brought into profit. This is public money and a position which cannot be sustained. We are working hard to bring the Crown branches into profit by April 2015. We want to keep our branches on high streets across the UK and believe the best way to do this for 70 of our branches, including Hastings Post Office, is to seek out suitable retail partners where customers can continue to access the same range of Post Office services.

“No decisions have been made and we have still to enter into any discussions with potential partners in Hastings. Once a suitable retailer is found we will then hold a six-week public consultation.”