Protestors demonstrate against St Leonards post office ‘closure’ plans

The protest outside the post office in London Road, St Leonards. SUS-160511-145244001
The protest outside the post office in London Road, St Leonards. SUS-160511-145244001

Demonstrators held a protest outside the main post office in St Leonards on Saturday (November 5).

People waved placards at the event, which was staged in protest against plans to close the branch in London Road.

Kay Avery-Stallion, owner of St Leonards Modern Goods, Helen Robinson, owner of SHOP, and artist Oska Lappin organised the protest.

Mole Meade, the Communication Workers’ Union’s area representative for the south east, was also there at the two-hour event outside the branch.

He said: “At one point during the demonstration there were around 100 people taking part.

“In an up and coming area like St Leonards with urban deprivation and the people desperately trying to a show for themselves, it would be an absolute crime against commerce and services if Post Office Ltd to just walk away from providing a Crown post office for the St Leonards community.”

Kay said: “People were vocal in their anger that they need a place to collect their pensions and benefits. They understand the post office creates vital footfall for the high street and they know many people and businesses rely entirely on the post office for their online and Ebay businesses.

“We have already lost two banks in the last 12 months and to lose this, our only banking facility at the post office, could kill St Leonards high street, which has fought so hard over the last 10 years to pick itself back up from dereliction.

“The aim of this first demonstration was to raise awareness locally and get more signatures for the petitions, which can be found in the St Leonards Grocers, Kings Road Butchers, Kino Teatr, Shop on Norman Road, St Leonards Modern Goods, and The St Leonard Pub to keep filling in and show support.

“We understand Post Office Ltd’s desire to streamline its national network of branches but as one of its most profitable branches and one that provides a crucial social need as well as an invaluable postal service we call upon the chief executive of the company to abandon closure plan for this branch.”

Hastings’ main post office in Cambridge Road closed in March 2014 after more than 80 years of trading.

The branch was one of 70 Crown branches, those owned directly by Post Office Ltd, which were targeted by company bosses to either shut or be franchised out to a retailer. Services at the branch are now based at WH Smith in Priory Meadow.

The move came as a blow to campaigners who fought for a year to keep the post office in Cambridge Road.

A petition signed by almost 7,000 people protesting against the closure of the town centre branch was presented to Post Office bosses in November 2013 by Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings.

Post Office Ltd first revealed further plans in July to replace or relocate directly-run Crown branches in 20 locations, St Leonards being one of them.

Roger Gale, general manager of the Post Office Crown Network, said: “Some Crown branches are continuing to grow profitably but others cannot do so due to factors such rising rents, changing town centres or other local circumstances. We need to adapt our approach so we can secure access to our services in these areas for the long term.

“By working with partners to locate Post Office branches with other retail businesses we can keep branches at the heart of communities, providing services for our customers cost-effectively and often with the benefit of longer opening hours.”

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