Tomorrow (Saturday 24 November) Cambridge MP, Daniel Zeichner, local councillors and unions will demonstrate against proposals to move the City’s Crown Post Office store into WHSmith. The action will build on the ongoing campaign in Cambridge that was initiated shortly after Post Office announced it would be moving tens of stores across the country into WHSmith.
Mr Zeichner has been critical of the proposals to close and move the Post Office since the announcement last month, namely because of concerns that it will have significant consequences for the elderly, those with disabilities and reduced mobility. In addition to that, Mr Zeichner also sees the removal of key buildings as an attack on the city’s town centre.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “The public will not support the closing of a well placed and busy Post Office if they see it being crammed into the back of a WHSmith, with limited access and reduced facilities. I would understand if the store on St Andrew’s Street was quiet, but it is not. It has a high footfall and because of its prime location enables many people to access the Post Office that might otherwise struggle.”
“My sense is that the public are getting fed up of being told that they no longer deserve good quality, public services because it isn’t cost effective. We don’t have to accept the eroding of vital services in our town centres. We saw that with the Magistrates Court and we will see it again with the Post Office. Over the coming weeks I would encourage people to sign the Labour and CWU petitions against these proposals and make sure that the Post Office knows that Cambridge won’t accept these changes without a fight.”
Councillor for East Chesterton, Gerri Bird, said: “I am ready to put my full weight behind this campaign because I am very concerned about the impact that these proposals will have on many elderly and disabled residents of the City. It is currently very convenient for people to get to the City Centre Post Office because of its location in relation to the bus stops. If people need to walk further it may make the services inaccessible, and that is simply unacceptable. We have not heard any plans about how the WHSmith will accommodate those with disability and reduced access and that needs to be a top priority when considering these proposals. We must make our voices heard on behalf of those that may not be able to shout so loud, because it is them that are likely to be most affected”
Mark Toner, CWU Branch Secretary, said: “”The action by Post Office to franchise out public service jobs to WHSmith is privatisation by stealth and continues to show that the Government puts Profit before People, as emphasised by the actions of the chairman of the Post Office Tim Clarke, aka the dark destroyer, in deliberately pushing through these franchises, whilst the Government is in turmoil over Brexit. Thus attempting to stifle any public debate on the closure programme and cost to the public purse.”
The Post Office has proposed to move up to 40 of its stores into WHSmith by 2019, with a further 33 to be taken over by WHSmith that are already sited on their premises, but currently being operated by Post Office directly. The proposals in Cambridge will be subject to a 6 week consultation due to launch in the New Year. Mr Zeichner, local councillors and trade unions will be continuing to campaign against the move over the coming weeks to encourage as many people as possible to respond to the consultation.