setback in battle to save sorting office

General view of Chatteris post office
General view of Chatteris post office

CAMPAIGNERS in Chatteris who are fighting to keep their sorting office have had a blow to their battle hopes this week.

Despite suggestions for alternative sites in the town, if plans go ahead for the Park Street sorting office to close, Royal Mail told the Citizen that so far, none of the suggestions meet its “business needs”.

The comment comes in the wake of a packed public meeting in the town in which residents, councillors and union officials discussed the plan.

Feeling is strong among residents, many of who have contacted the Citizen, pointing out that a growing town like Chatteris needs more facilities, not less.

The campaign to save the sorting office is being run jointly between the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) and Chatteris Town Council.

MP Steve Barclay is also fully behind the fight.

CWU branch vice-chairman Andy Beeby said: “Royal Mail want a quick cash injection, which is why they’re selling the building, but £200,000 is a drop in the ocean to them.”

Mr Beeby believes the March office is too small to take on the Chatteris workload.

Town clerk Joanna Melton said: “The town council are most concerned, if it does go ahead, that there still needs to be a collection point in town.”

Mr Barclay told the Citizen he had been in talks with both sides and backs calls for an alternative Chatteris site.

A postcard petition is being circulated to be presented to Royal Mail.

Letter writers to the Citizen say the decision is “ridiculous” when 1,000 new homes are planned. Resident Terry Schooling said to consider making people travel to March is “utterly unrealistic”.

Royal Mail blames “declining mail volumes” and “increasingly tough trading conditions” for their decision.

Spokesperson Sally Hopkins said: “The planned move of the Chatteris operation to March delivery office in summer 2012 will provide improved working conditions, secure employment and a more cost effective operation.

“Detailed planning for the move is now taking place to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and staff. We are currently discussing our plans with the Communication Workers Union and our people. We want to be able to work with them on the change and have the opportunity to discuss the implications individually.

“These discussions include considering their suggestions for alternative properties in Chatteris for the delivery office. So far, none of the suggestions have offered a suitable alternative that meets our business needs.

“We also appreciate that this move will impact on customers in the area and our planning activities always give due consideration as to how we can best protect and serve the interest of our customers.

“Almost no other company has daily contact with its customers in the way Royal Mail does and so we wish to continue providing consistent and high-quality services to our customers in Chatteris and the surrounding area.”

It was also pointed out that customers have the option of having items redelivered free of charge or someone else can collect items from the delivery office for them.