CAMPAIGNERS who fought to save Hastings town centre post office have been dealt a bitter blow as the branch will close this spring.
Bosses from Post Office Ltd announced on Tuesday (January 7) that the Cambridge Road branch is to move into WH Smith in Priory Meadow on Thursday, March 13.
It comes as disappointing news for those who campaigned for almost a year to keep the post office in its present location.
Managers from Post Office Ltd are currently looking for retail partners for 70 of its Crown branches, those directly owned by the Post Office, where services would be run from within stores, the Hastings branch being one of those affected.
The company held a six-week public consultation last October.
Campaigners slammed the Post Office’s decision to close the Cambridge Road branch.
Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings, said: “This is very disappointing news and makes a total mockery of the word ‘consultation’. Thousands of Hastings people signed my petition and Post Office Ltd has chosen to disregard their wishes. This is a clear downgrade of our postal services, a downgrade of accessibility for disabled customers and a downgrade to our town centre.”
A petition signed by almost 7,000 people was handed over to Post Office management by Ms Owen in November. Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have also staged a dozen strikes at the Cambridge Road branch since last March in protest when the proposals were first revealed.
Hastings MP Amber Rudd, however, welcomed the news. She said: “I am pleased that the new location in WH Smith will see the post office retain its town centre presence and build on the services already provided at Cambridge Road.
Over the last few months I have been working with staff at the Post Office and WH Smith to ensure certain criteria are nailed down. I welcome the news that the non-automatic door entrance on Queens Road will be removed in favour of automatic sliding doors. Left as it was, many disabled people would not have a chance of getting in and this would be unacceptable.”
Roger Gale, the Post Office’s Crown network general manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch in Hastings and maintain the same levels of service for our customers. We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so following the relocation it will be run by WH Smith High Street Ltd rather than by us directly.” He added there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the relocation.