Interest in Post Office’s franchise plans tops 200

Protestors outside the Cambridge Road branch with their Save Hastings Post Office petition
Protestors outside the Cambridge Road branch with their Save Hastings Post Office petition

BOSSES at the Post Office have received more than 200 expressions of interest from potential retailers as part of proposals to close or franchise some of their branches.

Managers are currently looking for retail partners, such as WHSmith, for 70 Crown branches, those directly owned by the Post Office, one of which includes the branch in Cambridge Road.

But the plans have attracted widespread opposition. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has staged several strikes in recent months over the Post Office’s plans, with staff picketing at all Crown branches, including the one in Cambridge Road.

Thousands of people have also signed several petitions this year calling for Hastings Post Office to be left as it is.

In April Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings, handed over a petition to Post Office management, containing more than 4,200 signatures. Hastings MP Amber Rudd set up a similar one, attracting many signatures.

Ruth Barker, spokeswoman for the Post Office, said: “No decisions have been made. The next steps are to have discussions with retailers. Once a suitable partner has been identified there will be a full six-week public consultation before a final decision is made. If a suitable retail partner cannot be found we are committed to retaining a Crown branch in Hastings. Our aim is for any franchises to take place before April 2015.”