Campaign fails to save Lewisham’s last Crown post office

Bellingham Councillor Alan Hall with two Lewisham residents Pic: Alan Hall

The last remaining Crown Post Office in the Lewisham area has closed down, to be replaced by an independent stationary and card shop.

The decision comes after more than 3,000 people signed a petition to save the Sydenham Post Office and delivered it to 10 Downing Street last April.

Bellingham Councillor Alan Hall said: “It’s a national scandal that Sydenham Crown Post Office is closing. This leaves Lewisham borough without a full Crown Post Office service.”

Save Sydenham Crown Post Office outside 10 Downing Street Pic: Alan Hall

During the campaign, Pat Trembath of the Sydenham Society said: “The Crown Post Office is a vital part of a vibrant high street. It serves a wider community as the only Crown Post Office in the borough and this drastic cut will be a blow for the community.”

The campaign ended in failure on November 14, when Post Office Ltd agreed to close the Sydenham Crown branch.

Cllr Hall described the post office as “an essential public service” playing an “important part of the local high street economy”.

In their Local Public Consultation, Post Office said: “This change is being made as part of the continuing modernisation of our network to achieve commercial sustainability and will help us provide services that will meet customer needs and safeguard future service provision in Sydenham, now and for the long-term.”

There will be five serving positions: two screened, two open-plan and a Post Office serving point at the retail counter.

Some Post Office specifications will be built, including low-level counters, PIN pads, and hearing loops.

Opening hours will be extended to include Saturday afternoons.

According to the Communication Workers Union, customers will not be able to post parcels, and a lack of cash-van drivers could cause offices to run low on money.

The CWU added that it will have a considerable impact on the customers with longer queue times, service times and customer service/advice.

The Post Office’s Local Public Consultation says it will have the same range of Post Office services available, with the exception of Biometric Enrolment Service for the Home Office.

The dates of temporary closure for refurbishment are planned for early 2019.

Over the past four years, the Post Office has been applying significant cost-cutting measures with closures, franchising (privatisation), job losses and cuts to staff.

Cllr Hall said: “It is time to halt these closures, improve the services by creating a Post Bank and take the threat to our high streets seriously.”

Post Office has announced a further 74 closures, with 900 jobs being lost, costing the taxpayer £35 million.

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