Campaigners battling to save St Leonards’ main post office from closing have criticised a move by bosses to appoint a temporary franchisee to run the branch.
Post Office Ltd announced the decision this week after the proposed franchisee withdrew his application.
The London Road branch will instead be temporarily transferred to Potent Solutions Ltd from January until a permanent franchisee can be found.
Erica Smith, from the Save St Leonards Crown Post Office campaign, said: “We are very concerned about this. It appears to be a way of stripping the branch of Crown status, and it will be unsettling for staff. We do not understand why a temporary measure is needed, especially since Hastings Borough Council has already expressed an interest in working with Post Office Ltd to provide a sound future for the building and the staff.
“We don’t understand why Post Office Ltd doesn’t want to find a sustainable future for our branch.
“It just wants to rush through a quick sale to get rid of the bricks and mortar and the responsibility of running a Crown post office.”
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 and thousands of people have signed a petition.
John Dutton, Post Office regional general manager, said: “We are taking action to safeguard our services for the community. The agreement with Potent Solutions Ltd means the branch can be operated sustainably, providing our customers with the same Post Office services and increasing opening hours.
“It also means our staff do not have to face an additional period of uncertainty. Our future plans for St Leonards will remain centred on ensuring sustainable, convenient and accessible Post Office services are available for our customers for years to come.”