Town centre post office could be moved

Workers on strike outside Hastings post office
Workers on strike outside Hastings post office
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THE main post office in the town centre could be closed as early as next spring.

Bosses at Post Office Ltd have put forward proposals to shut the branch in Cambridge Road and move it to WHSmith in Priory Meadow.

Managers 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.

A six-week public consultation started on Monday (October 14) and if the plans go ahead the branch would be based in WHSmith from March 2014.

Campaigners fighting to keep the Cambridge Road branch as it is are not happy.

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings, said: “This is possibly one of the worst options, given how small WHSmith is. People with mobility problems, as well as mothers with pushchairs will find it incredibly hard to get around.”

A petition set up by her has attracted more than 6,000 signatures. “We hope to use this petition to tell the Post Office that we do not want the branch to move,” she said.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd set up a similar petition which attracted scores of signatures.

She said: “For a long time I have been campaigning to protect the Cambridge Road post office and I have negotiated the best outcome given the circumstances.

After several discussions, I have been assured by the Post Office that the new premises will be an open plan branch with longer opening hours, no compulsory redundancies and improved accessibility.

“The Post Office is a vital part of the community in Hastings and I will continue to fight to ensure that the new site provides a service that meets the local needs.”

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have also staged a dozen strikes since March in protest.

Mole Meade, the CWU’s area representative for the south east, said: “This is definitely a dumbing down of the service and those against it should say so loudly in the consultation.”

Roger Gale, the Post Office’s Crown network general manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch in Hastings and to maintaining the same levels of service.

“We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so if the move goes ahead it will be run by WHSmith High Street Ltd rather than by us.”

The Post Office is hosting a customer forum on Thursday (October 24) on the proposed relocation of the Cambridge Road branch.

The event will be held at St Mary in the Castle, Pelham Crescent, starting from 4.30pm and running through the evening.

To submit views log onto postofficeviews.co.uk, email comments@postoffice.co.uk, or ring 08457 22 33 44. Quote branch code 006925. The closing date is November 25.