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Folkestone Main Post Office Faces Closure

April 22, 2007 10:31 PM
Shepway Lib Dems outside Folkestone Post Office with www.saveourpostoffice.org.uk banner

Shepway Lib Dems launch www.saveourpostoffice.org.uk campaign web site

Folkestone Post Office is to be closed and services moved to a new "franchise" based at WHSmith in Sandgate Road says a review of Crown Post Offices by Post Office Ltd - unless a public consultation can change their mind. Shepway Lib Dems have condemned the proposals as leading to a reduction in the quality of service available to Folkestone.

Shepway Lib Dem campaigner Toby Philpott was horrified at the news. He said:

"Local people value our main Post Office and see it as an important service in the town. The Post Office is also an important symbol that Folkestone is a good place to live, visit and do business. Just as Folkestone is starting to show signs of getting back on its feet again along comes the Government and Royal Mail to kick it back down again."

"Staff in Crown Post Offices are trained to deal with specialist customer requirements and requests. With the best will in the world, there has to be a big question as to whether WHSmith would be able to offer anything like the same levels of service local people have come to expect.

"We have already lost one in three of our Post Offices since 1997. Enough is enough."

Local election candidate for Folkestone Central, Gary Fuller, who lives nearly in Sandgate Road, added:

"Anyone with a pram or wheelchair struggles to get around WHSmiths here, which hardly makes it ideal for a Post Office."

The Lib Dems have set up a campaign web site at www.saveourpostoffice.org.uk and are writing to people across Shepway to raise awareness of the proposals. Those signing the Lib Dem petition will have their views passed to the consultation and will be kept up to date with the latest news from the campaign to fight Folkestone Post Office closure.

The closure is also being fought by the Communication Workers Union who are planning on balloting their members on strike action at the move and charity Age Concern.

"This is moving from trusted public servants to a company which regards postal services as a sideshow," said Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union. The union said all its members in the Post Office will now be consulted for national strike action.

"Specialist, highly skilled staff, who have provided years of dedicated service, are now being substituted for inexperienced staff on poverty wages," Mr Hayes said.

Gordon Lishman, Director of Age Concern, said:

"Many older people consider their post office to be a lifeline. They value the service they receive from the highly trained post Office staff and the invaluable support they offer to their older customers. If a post office must be relocated within another business to avoid closure, the expertise and skills of staff must continue to be provided."

Post Office Managing Director, Alan Cook, announced that 70 Crown Post offices to be "relocated" into nearby WH Smith branches - including the Folkestone Post Office. They are:

Aberdeen (St Nicholas), Aldershot, Alton, Aylesbury, Ayr, Bangor, Bexleyheath, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brentwood, Brighton, Bromley, Caerphilly, Canterbury, Carlisle, Charing Cross, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Glasgow (City), Coventry (Hertford Street), Cwmbran, Dalkeith, East Ham, Erdington, Folkestone, Forest Hill, Fort William, Fulham, Galashiels, Gillingham, Glenrothes, Gravesend, Grays, Great Yarmouth, Greenock (Nicolson Street), Hanley, Hayes, Hemel Hempstead, Hinckley, Hounslow, Hull (Jameson Street), Ilford, King's Lynn, Kirkintilloch, Leicester, Lewisham, Lichfield, Liverpool St John's, Middlesbrough, Newcastle City, Poland Street (off Oxford Street), Poole, Redhill, Richmond, Runcorn, Southampton, St Andrews, Stafford, Staines, Stirling, Streatham, Stretford, Swindon, Torquay, Uxbridge, Waltham Cross, Winchester, Woking, Woolwich and Worcester.