Despite huge opposition from local residents, the postal services watchdog and local representatives, Post Office Ltd appears determined to plough-on regardless with their plans to close Highbury Corner Post Office.
Islington Labour has campaigned against the proposed closure and Islington Council is still offering £750,000 towards securing a new branch at Highbury Corner, as well as a temporary home while work was carried out.
Sadly, Post Office bosses have turned down this offer - which remains on the table.
Today, Cllr Richard Watts - Leader of Islington Council, local MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, and Geoff Poole from the CWU have written an open letter to the Chief Executive of the Post Office urging her to think again.
A copy of the letter, which appeared in the Islington Gazette, can be found below.
Open Letter to Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd -
Dear Paula Vennells,
We write this open letter to express our utter despair that the Post Office seems determined to push on with your short sighted plans to close the Highbury Corner Post Office.
This branch provides an invaluable service to thousands of local people – many of whom are elderly or disabled and would struggle to travel to another post office. The branch also provides a convenient stop-off point for commuters and a vital service for local small businesses.
Together with the local community, we have opposed your plans to shut the branch. Our campaign received the support of over 1,000 residents who signed our petition.
Islington Council wrote to the Government asking them to intervene. There was a debate in the House of Commons led by local MPs. But as usual, the Government ignored Islington. Islington Council also offered £750,000 towards a new branch at Highbury Corner, as well as a temporary home while the work was carried out, but were turned down by postal chiefs. That offer is still very much on the table.
It hasn’t just been local politicians and residents that have opposed your plans. The industry watchdog also said that service provision should be retained in the Highbury Corner area. There were plenty of opportunities for both the Government and Post Office managers to think again and secure the future of this vital facility. Sadly, you have chosen to ignore these warnings and press ahead with your plans to close the branch on 14th June.
Islington is being short-changed by your plans. The remaining branch on Upper Street will not be ‘new’ as you describe it. We already have a Post Office on Upper Street. As your plans do not contain a replacement for the closure of Highbury Corner, they are simply a service cut. The threat of job losses from this cut – as has happened with other ‘mergers’ – is of deep concern to us.
We remain concerned about the future of the Holloway Post Office. Local people – and your staff - deserve to be told that the branch will not be franchised, moved or closed.
As ever, it is not too late to reconsider your decision to close Highbury Corner. We stand ready to work with you to find a solution which saves this vital community asset.
Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour MP for Islington North
Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Geoff Poole, Communication Workers Union