Scores of campaigners fighting to save St Leonards post office from closing held a mass rally on Thursday (August 3).
The Save Our Post Office campaign staged the event opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel in Marina at the same time a meeting was held by Post Office bosses as part of its consultation into the branch’s future.
Protestors held up and waved placards, calling for the branch in London Road to remain open as a Crown post office, one which is directly owned by the company.
A heated meeting then took place between company bosses and more than 100 residents, who voiced their opposition.
Campaigners at the meeting said the economy of St Leonards was already fragile and there were already many convenience stores selling stationery and newspapers within a few yards of the Crown Post Office.
Rosie Brocklehurst, from the campaign group, said: “We have concerns that the regeneration of St Leonards, which has taken years to stabilise, and where Government monies have been pumped in to an area which has the poorest ward in the south east, will be irretrievably undermined by the change.
“The residents were magnificent in their passionate argument. Some wore crowns. Others carried cardboard pillarboxes. On the other side, what I can only describe as a bravura performance of bland and patronising obfuscation, the Post Office officials, representatives of the faceless corporate management, didn’t answer any questions that were not supportive of and inclusive of their own agenda. This is to asset-strip their bricks and mortar and offload their responsibilities to run Crown Post Offices.
“It is to be deeply regretted they did not choose a different approach, which could have seen us working together to make our post office a vibrant and profitable hub of the community.”
Post Office Ltd first revealed its plans to replace or relocate directly-run Crown post offices in 20 locations, including the London Road branch, in July last year.
Since then, several demonstrations have been held in the town and thousands of people have signed a petition against the plans.
The firm launched a public consultation on June 28 on its latest proposal, which will see the current premises at 12-14 London Road refurbished, with the post office to be incorporated in a newsagents, run by a franchisee.
Post Office Ltd said the service would be in a dedicated area with three serving positions.
It added a wide range of Post Office services will also be available at the retail till.
A spokesman for Post Office Ltd said: “The Post Office’s proposals are to ensure that our services our safeguarded for the future.
“The plans are to make the branch sustainable. There will be no changes to the services offered and the opening hours for customers will be extended to include Saturday afternoons.
“The vast majority of post offices, large and small, are run on a franchise or agency basis, alongside other retail businesses.
“It’s a model that works, keeping Post Office branches at the heart of communities and on high streets.”
The consultation ends on Wednesday (August 9).
The branch number for any communication is 004925.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
3) Follow us on Twitter @HastingsObs
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Hastings Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.