Post Office warned it faces backlash over plans to downsize Camden Town branch
Consultation survey on changes open now
02 August, 2018 — By Helen Chapman
The Post Office has been warned that it faces a backlash of opposition to its bid to downsize the Camden High Street branch, amid claims that the change will lead to gridlocked queues at the counter.
It has also been told that the way it consults users and staff will be placed under scrutiny, with objectors insisting they are determined to be heard. The current plan will see its publicly-owned Crown status surrendered to a franchise operation at the back of stationery retailer UOE.
The service will move two doors down the High Street from its current Camden Town unit to smaller premises.
The Post Office has been sent a postbag of objections since launching a consultation survey last month.
Regular user Elizabeth Wilson said: “Privatisation will mean a deterioration of workers’ rights and services. If it is privatised, jobs will be lost and workers ground into dust. A lot of older people and vulnerable people who need help in various ways go to the post office. I can’t see how a counter at the back of a shop will offer the same services.”
The Post Office has confirmed the branch will lose its biometric enrolment service for Visa applications if the changes go ahead.
London Assembly member Andrew Dismore said: “This is an essential service it will be losing. People will now have to find a new post office to go to and this will be worse for customers.”
The move will replicate the turnaround in East Finchley, where the post office now operates from the back of a UOE branch.
Camden Business Improvement District chief executive Simon Pitkeathley said: “It is a very well-used post office so what happens next will have to be sufficient for how many people use it. A lot of businesses in the area use that post office and sometimes the queues in there can be pretty long. If they can’t get a good service there, they will go elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, Communication Workers Union (CWU) has started a campaign urging customers with complaints to write to Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer or Greg Clark, the government’s business secretary, outlining their concerns.
CWU branch secretary John Gaby said: “The main impact on services is the loss of current experienced staff and expertise. They can chose to move to a new office, but hardly any of our members do that and instead choose to take a package of two years’ pay because it is a better deal. The new workers will then have lower wages and no pensions.”
The Post Office is running a survey on the changes until August 15.
Mr Gaby added: “In experience, the consultation is a sham. Every time we have gone through a consultation procedure it has led to closure or privatising. It is not genuine.”
A Post Office spokesperson said: “The public can feedback concerns as part of the consultation. A decision won’t be made until this period is over.
“We talk to staff about different options. They have a right to work at the new branch or most staff prefer to take voluntary settlement.”
The Post Office is holding a customer forum at Ort House, in Albert Street, from 3.45pm to 7pm on Tuesday “to provide an opportunity for people to discuss the proposals”.
UOE managing director Elliot Jacobs said: “While the new post office will be in a smaller building, a modern open-plan layout will ensure room for eight counter positions. An additional benefit is that the post office will be open seven days a week, a significant increase to current opening hours.”
To view the plan and comment, visit postofficeviews.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org