Locals to ‘have say’ on future of post offices

Russell Hargrave reports
Walthamstow Central Crown Post Office

Walthamstow Central Crown Post Office, which is now under threat

Local people will get a chance to comment on two post offices in Waltham Forest that have been put on a list of branches under threat of closure.

The Walthamstow Central and Lea Bridge Road post offices are listed among 37 branches which Post Office Ltd plans either to close or ‘franchise’. Franchising would mean moving the service into another, existing premises, and a similar process last year resulted in several dozen post offices being rehoused in local WHSmith stores.

The offices affected in the borough are both so-called ‘crown offices,’ referring to the larger branches most often found on high streets. Post Office Ltd has confirmed that eleven staff currently work at Walthamstow Central and eight at Lea Bridge Road.

A spokesman for the company told the Echo: “We need to make changes to ensure that branches in Leyton and Walthamstow are sustainable into the future. Through franchising we can offer customers the same services, keeping branches in convenient locations.
Lea Bridge Post Office

Lea Bridge Post Office, at 553 Lea Bridge Road (credit Google Street View)

“We have no detailed plans yet for Leyton and Walthamstow.  When we do these will be subject to six-week public consultations and we will very much welcome feedback from our customers and the communities.

“The majority of Post Office branches are run on a franchise basis and it’s a model that works.”
According to the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), the plans put a total of 300 jobs at risk across the country. Andy Furey, CWU’s national officer, hit out at the plan for Walthamstow’s biggest post office.
He said: “The announced franchising of the Walthamstow Central Crown Post Office represents a major loss to the local community. Like many crown offices up and down the country, it provides a vital public service for the local community and it is part of the fabric of our society.
“The loss of this service would be detrimental to the area.”
Post offices are also under threat in the neighbouring boroughs of Haringey and Redbridge.