Campaigners protested in the town centre today (Friday) against the possible closure of Hastings’ main post office.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents staff at the Crown branch in Cambridge Road, ran a street stall in the afternoon outside the premises for several hours gathering signatures on a petition and distributing leaflets.
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. The move is being carried out to try and stem losses being made at Crown branches which are around £40 million a year.
Paul Carpenter, CWU south east regional secretary, said: “Hastings Crown post office is a valuable asset to the town and is relied upon by local residents and businesses. The staff in Hastings are well-trained and have a wealth of experience and service between them which could be lost under the company’s plans to close this office and find what it calls a ‘retail partner’.
“Hastings, like so many small towns in the south east, is struggling in the current climate and if this post office was to close it would be a major blow to the local economy and to the services which many people rely on.
“This office is part of the Crown network which generates the best business opportunities and revenue potential for the Post Office, so shutting these down makes little business sense. This is a dedicated office with good access arrangements in a prominent town centre position. We want these local jobs and services to be protected.”
Mr Carpenter added staff will be balloted on possible strike action in the coming week.
Hastings MP Amber Rudd has set up a petition which can be found at amberrudd.co.uk/news/protect-hastings-post-office.
An online petition launched by Hastings’ Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen, reached 330 signatures in its first 24 hours and is available at www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-hastings-post-office/sign.html#se.
Sandra McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the Post Office, said it was looking to find retail partners with 70 of its Crown branches and that the Cambridge Road outlet was one such branch identified, subject to a six-week consultation.
She stressed the Post Office was ‘committed’ to having a branch in the town centre.
“This is not a closure programme and there are no compulsory redundancies planned,” she added.