Fight to save post office

Councillor Paul Clapp canvassing signatures with John Smithee signing the Post Office petition
Councillor Paul Clapp canvassing signatures with John Smithee signing the Post Office petition
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Members of the community are being urged to make their voices known if they want to save the Crown Post Office in Wisbech.

Area representative of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Dave Smith said pressure needs to be maintained if people want to hold on to the Bridge Street service.

The building is one of 70 Crown Post Offices earmarked for closure if its facilities can be franchised. The Post Office is seeking partnerships with retail firms to relocate services saying the Crown offices are losing money.

The CWU has launched a Save Wisbech Crown Post Office campaign collecting around 500/600 signatures and on Friday held a public meeting at the Rosmini Centre. Ian Ward (CWU National Executive member) and Gary Herbert from Post Office were the speakers.

Mr Smith said he was disappointed with the turnout but added it was Friday night.

UKIP councillor Paul Clapp, who attended the meeting, has launched his own petition.

Mr Clapp, a Cambs County councillor for Wisbech, is hoping to get 3,000 signatures so he can then ask for the matter to be discussed by the County Council.

After standing outside the branch, Mr Clapp had 1,000 names by Monday. He plans to be outside the branch tomorrow (Thursday) from 9am to 2pm and again on Saturday until around 1pm and he is urging people to show their support.

“If we lose this it will be another nail in the coffin for Wisbech,” said Mr Clapp. “This needs to be debated at Shire Hall with all parties present,” he said.

The CWU has a post card campaign. People are urged to complete and send a card to the Minister for Postal Affairs calling for their concerns to be raised with the chief executive of the Post Office.

Speaking about Cllr Clapp’s petition, Mr Smith said: “If they want to take it to council, all well and good. We will take all the help we can get. Local people have been supportive from the start. It is down to how much they want to try to keep the Crown Post Office,” he said.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to keeping Post Office branches on high streets across the UK. For 70 of our branches, including Wisbech, the best way to do this is to partner with a retailer. Any new branch would offer access to the wide range of Post Office products with same high levels of customer service.

“The year-end figures for 2012/2013 showed that Crown Post Office network made a loss of £37 million. Each £1 of revenue produced at Wisbech Post Office cost £1.67 to generate. This is public money and this is clearly not a sustainable position.

“We are currently in the middle of a selection process and no final decisions have been made on who the franchise partner will be for Wisbech Post Office. Once a potential partner has been found, there will be a six-week public consultation to allow people to give us their views.

“This is not a closure programme.

“If no suitable retail partner is found, we are still committed to having a Crown Post Office in each location, including Wisbech.”