A petition calling for the Post Office to reverse its decision to close and franchise its Shoreham branch has amassed hundreds of signatures in less than 24 hours.
The online petition to save the Brunswick Road branch, which was started by Catherine Arnold – a member of the local Labour party, calls on Paula Vennells, Post Office CEO, to retain the ‘busy key service’ which many are dependent on.
She said the Post Office was well used and provided a wide range of services.
“It caters for all age ranges, from the elderly – who need to send post and pay bills nearby – to on and offline business’ using it for drop and go services,” she said.
“With increased population due to a raft of housing developments and the closure of HSBC bank, the Post Office has picked up more trade as a result.”
If the North Road branch was closed, the nearest Post Office offering like for like services would be in Portslade or Worthing – too far for many elderly and other residents who rely on its services, she said.
“The idea to run a local franchise within a nearby local shop, would not be accessible for disabled, buggies and would not be able to meet the local demand,” she said.
A similar petition to save Lancing’s North Road branch, set up by councillor Lee Cowen, has also gained hundreds of signatures already.
Mr Cowen said: “This announcement is the new year present our village can do without.
“Lancing has recently lost key banks in the town and its Post Office has served to pick up some of the trade from those closures.”
He said that if the branch were to be based in a franchise, it would ‘become dependent on another business’ which would ‘endanger long term postal service provision.’
“It will lead to worse services for customers, worse conditions for workers and compromises on everything from fewer staff to disabled access,” he said.
“Footfall on Lancing’s main shopping street dropped significantly when the school closed.
“The Post Office is a busy place that people are dependent on, particularly the elderly, and this will undoubtedly affect all businesses on the street. “We’ll fight hard to protect this essential service.”
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, expressed his outrage at the ‘devastating’ news yesterday, which he said came ‘without warning’ and would have a ‘big impact’ on the Adur community.
He is seeking urgent meetings to lobby the Post Office to think again, he added.
The two West Sussex branches are among 37 in the country that will be affected by the change.
Roger Gale, Sales and Trade Marketing Director for the Post Office, said this would be a ‘more sustainable approach for the long term’, adding that the ‘vast majority’ of their branches are run with partners.
“With consumer habits changing, and the high cost of maintaining premises in prime high street locations, franchising helps us to keep services where our customers want and need them,” said Mr Gale.
“We’re committed to maintaining the Post Office’s special place on the high street and the changes we are making underpin our continued commitment to give communities in every part of the country access to essential services.”
He said the Post Office would take time to identify the right partners over the coming months and that all proposals would be subject to local consultation.
Readers can view and sign the petition here.
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