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West End to lose crown post office

Union anger as franchise operation is lined up for Great Portland Street branch

07 February, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The post office in Great Portland Street. Photo: Paul The Activist/Flickr

ONE of the last Crown Post Offices in the West End is to be shut down as part of a national programme of closures.

Seventeen staff at Great Portland Street office learned this week that their jobs are likely to be lost.

Postal services will be available from the same premises but will be run independently as a “franchise” by Zahirkhan Subekhan Pathan and Anish Mustufa Vohra.

Union chiefs say the changes will lead to a reduction in access, services and staff who will be lower paid and not as well trained.

Around 400 years of experience would be lost, they said.

Garrie Bond, the Communication Workers Union rep, said: “Unfortunately, the current Post Office board’s short-sighted business plan, only involves the closure of all Crown Post Offices.

“This is now happening at a pace, as the Post Office now have to pay sub-postmasters millions of pounds for the appalling governance and management they received, in light of the damning verdict handed to them by the High Court.

He added: “The current board have turned this once major, trusted, high street brand, into a company who increasingly have no home of their own and rely on other, often much troubled, high street companies to house them.”

Mr Bond said that setting up a Postbank – similar to the Girobank established in the 1980s – could help stem losses at the Post Office and stop the closures of Crown office branches.

The Post Office said the changes would take effect from May 2020 with “extended opening on Saturday afternoons” and the current premises would be refurbished.

The Post Office’s head of the directly managed branch network, Steve Blampied, said: “We are making this change in order to maintain post office services in Great Portland Street.

“There are unprecedented changes on our high streets and the needs of our customers are evolving too.

“Our priority is to provide secure and commercially sustainable services in Great Portland Street, continuing to meet our customers’ needs now and into the future.”

He added: “The vast majority of our 11,500 post office branches, large and small, are already successfully operated by independent franchisees.”

A survey is currently taking place, but it is not a consultation because the Post Office said it has already made a decision.

Comments can be made at the website: postofficeviews.co.uk until March 4.

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