Approximately 1,000 people have signed a petition to save Lewisham’s last Crown Post Office, a branch on the high street that provides specialist application services.
The petition was collected on Sydenham High Street and handed in to 10 Downing Street on April 26.
Sydenham Crown Post Office is the last crown postal service in Lewisham following the closure of the New Cross site earlier this year.
Under the plans, the Post Office would franchise the Sydenham branch which would involve joining with a retailer – such as WHSmith – and operating from its current site.
Residents fear this would lead to a downgrade in services and longer queue times.
This would also mean a loss of Home Office services only provided in Crowns, and changes to customer service due to a loss of specialist roles.
Sydenham Councillor Liam Curran said: “Sydenham residents queued up to sign this petition in the few hours we had it on the High Street. There are many things that you can’t do online and the withdrawal of the services of a Crown Post office is a blow to our community.”
Councillor Alan Hall, chair of Lewisham Council’s Business Panel told EastLondonlines: “We’re going to keep on to the Post Office and see if we can keep this Crown Post Office open. We’re showing the community values their Crown Post Office and we really want all of those services to be accessible in Lewisham.
“My concern is that in the London borough of Lewisham there will be no Crown Post Offices. That means there will be a loss of vital services for a population of over 300,000 people.”
These services include the Home Office’s specialist biometric enrollment service, a permit that proves the right to stay and work in the UK.
A spokesperson from the Post Office said they were looking to franchise Sydenham Post Office to ensure its sustainability for the long-term:
“The vast majority of our 11,500 post office branches are operated on a franchise or agency basis within retailers.
“Partnering with retailers to offer Post Offices combined with shops ensures that services remain at the heart of communities and high streets and frequently enables us to extend opening hours.”
According to a briefing on Lewisham’s Crown Post Offices from the Communications Workers Union, independent research found that WHSmith franchises ranked worse than Crowns for queue and service times, and customer advice on appropriate products.