A campaign is under way to save a popular post office at Keele University which is facing closure under controversial plans which would downgrade the services provided and reclassify it as a ‘local’ branch.
Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly has joined local councillor Tony Kearon and university staff, students and residents who are fighting Post Office plans to restructure the business currently provided in the students’ union.
The campaigners have warned that if the proposals go ahead it will force the closure of the existing post office and lead to the loss of many services valued by the local community.
Mr Farrelly has called on Post Office chiefs to think again before going ahead with the controversial proposals which, he said, were unfair, unpopular and against the interests of his constituents.
In a letter to Post office chiefs, Mr Farrelly said that closing the existing post office and relocating the business would deprive customers of an exceptional service which had been carefully tailored to meet their diverse needs.
Under the proposals, the new business would be classified as a “Local” branch which, Mr Farrelly warned, would mean far fewer services run by fewer staff operating from smaller counter space and serving lengthy queues of customers.
In particular, Mr Farrelly said, customers would be deprived of access to on-demand travel insurance, international parcels over 2Kgs, motor vehicle licensing, passport checks, a bureau de change, an automated cashpoint and the loss of secure service counters.
“The breadth of the services currently provided goes well beyond the traditional range of functions and far exceeds what would be provided in a business designated as “a Post Office Local”, said Mr Farrelly.
“From my own knowledge of the current service, I can tell you that the range of services is highly valued by the existing clients who would undoubtedly expect it to continue in the future,” he said.
“I am aware that several attempts have been made to request the Post Office to adopt a more flexible approach, taking account of the unusual nature of the business at Keele but that, on at least two occasions, these appeals have been flatly rejected.
In his letter, Mr Farrelly urged Post office chiefs to reconsider their proposals adding: “The unusual nature of the Keele business will, I hope, persuade you that there are sufficient grounds for you to pause and reflect before pressing ahead which proposals which are unfair, unpopular and which will clearly result in a poorer service.”
His comments were echoed by Keele’s Labour councillor Tony Kearon who said: “The whole community is opposing this short-sighted decision by managers in London. Paul has been providing invaluable support for our campaign from the start and together we must convince these managers to keep the essential services provided by the hard working staff in our Post Office.
”Paul is pictured with Tony Polden, Commercial Manager at the students’ union (to the left) and Councillor Tony Kearon (to the right) with students and residents.