MP fights proposal to move city Post Office
A proposal to move the city centre's main Post Office into a branch of WHSmith has been condemned by Cambridge's MP.
Daniel Zeichner, MP has joined councillors and trade unions in condemning the plans, and predicts a strong response from Cambridge people.
The proposal is part of a larger franchise deal between Post Office and the retailer that will result in 40 more stores being relocated to WHSmith, taking the national total to 200.
Mr Zeichner said: “Our post office in St Andrew’s Street is very-heavily used and is a key part of our city, and part of our city identity. Like many others, I am tired of seeing the commercialisation of the institutions that make up our communities and I anticipate a strong response from Cambridge people. Earlier this year, the Government tried to take away our Magistrates Court, and we beat them off. Now they want our Post Office. Let’s send a very strong message - no.
“I think having a Post Office is one of the key things you expect in a city, it is part of the civic structure and one of the things that define our city. Also, to move it into the back of a shop will not help with access. I very much doubt WHSmith will put it at the front of their store. The general response I have had from people I have spoken to so far is it is not right.”
The plan will be subject to a six-week public consultation during which Post Office will seek the views of customers and local stakeholders. Mr Zeichner will be campaigning alongside union members, led by local CWU Branch Secretary Mark Toner, against these proposals.
Mr Toner says: “When these moves have happened in other cities, CWU members have seen the impact that they can have on local communities, particularly disabled people, when access is reduced. The Post Office should remain in public hands, and the transfer to WHSmith will no doubt have a detrimental impact on post office services. We will be campaigning against it.”
Cllr Anna Smith says: “St Andrew’s Street Post Office is one of the city’s flagship Post Offices, seeing a large number of people during opening hours. Relocating the services to a WHSmith store puts access and the services themselves at risk. As Executive Councillor for Communities I am all too aware of the impact this will have on so many residents for whom the post office is a lifeline. We absolutely do not want to see important institutions get stripped away from our City and I fully support Daniel’s campaign.”
Post Office Network and Sales Director Roger Gale said: “WHSmith and Post Office have worked together successfully for more than a decade and our collaboration helps to secure our services on high streets for years to come.
“We’re continuing to respond to unprecedented change on high streets and in consumer trends. By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter as much tomorrow as they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays.
“We’ve made significant changes in our network of 11,500 Post Offices over the past few years, modernising more than 7,500 branches and increasing opening hours for customers by more than 200,000 a week. We’ve also developed our services, including the introduction of everyday banking for customers of the UK’s high street banks.
“The vast majority of the Post Office’s network of 11,500 Post Office branches, large and small, are run on a franchise or agency basis with retailers as part of thriving businesses. It makes sense to further expand this successful, sustainable way of providing Post Office services to customers.”
More by this authorAlex Spencer