New Cross will not let their Post Office go without a fight

New Cross Gate Post Office Demonstration  Pic: Niels Jakob Sondergaard Mye

Protestors gathered in New Cross at the weekend to oppose Post Office plans to close or sell off its New Cross Gate branch. Demonstrators said they oppose the plans, which put the branch and 37 others across the country at risk of closure, maintaining it provides “essential services to the community”.

Around 60 people gathered outside the New Cross Gate Post Office on Saturday morning with signs, fliers and posters, chanting, “Where do we go with no PO?” and urging passers-by to sign a petition.

A Post Office spokesperson said they are confident they will find a “business partner” to take over the branch, however no solid plans have yet been announced.

Without a buyer, the branch would most likely have to close.

Local MP Vicky Foxcroft, who represents Lewisham Deptford, joined the demonstrators. She said she is worried that the Post Office’s franchising plan could have a negative impact on New Cross.

She said: “Franchises can quite often go in, WHSmiths, but where is WHSmiths locally? Where is the place that it could potentially go? There doesn’t seem like a obvious place at the moment.”

The MP said she intends to raise a debate in Parliament about the number of Post Office Closures.

Lewisham councillor Brenda Dacres, who was also present at the demonstration, said she too is worried about what the closure could mean to the local area: “This is a Post Office that services the community. It’s one where people can put and collect their savings. People fear they will have to travel further away.”

Laura Wirtz is a local resident who organised Saturday’s community action. She said she was delighted with the support the campaign had received from the community: “When I was taking the posters and petitions around the local shops,”she said, “ the local business owners were just horrified to hear that this was under threat. They’re still being impacted by the closure of the bank here a few years ago.”

She pointed out that the elderly and people with disabilities will be particularly affected if New Cross loses its only Crown Post Office. Crown Post Offices, are usually larger branches and provide a wider variety of services than other Post Offices.

She said: “Everyone uses the Post Office, everyone knows what an essential it is for us, so people really want to fight as you can see from the massive turnout today.”

A representative from the local branch of the postal workers’ union, the Communication Workers Union, also joined the demonstration. Within view of a CWU banner, pinned up to the window by staff inside, union representative Mole Meade said he could understand the thoughts of Post Office employees inside.

He said the union’s stance was that franchising of the Post Office branches is simply not a viable solution.

“From experience the offices that have been – what they call franchised – or got rid of, the services have always been diminished,’ he said. “The moment you franchise, the services get diminished, the community suffers, and that isn’t right.”

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