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Camden New Journal - by DAN CARRIER
Published: 28 February 2008
Fiona Bruce (right) joined the protest on Saturday
Fiona Bruce (right) joined the protest on Saturday
Postal dispute is far from sorted

Anger grows as customers face ‘a bus or Tube journey’ to buy a stamp

THE Royal Mail were negotiating with a small family-run newsagents to open a branch in Belsize Park just three days before announcing a massive programme of cuts that hails the end of four post offices in Camden.

Royal Mail announced last week that the offices in England’s Lane, Highgate High Street, Crowndale Road and South End Road are all due to shut as the company battles to cut costs.
Demonstrations by angry customers have taken place outside the branches: on Saturday, BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce lent her support to the campaign, asking shoppers in England’s Lane to sign a petition against the closure.
And the anger at the decision to close the branch has increased as it emerged that two weeks ago Royal Mail were still talking to Minesh Patel, a newsagent in Haverstock Hill, about plans to open a sub-post office in his shop.
When a branch in Belsize Village closed two years ago, Royal Mail promised they would find an alternative outlet.
Mr Patel, who runs Actionmate newsagents on Haverstock Hill, offered to become a postmaster and has spent time and money making his shop suitable and organising the training needed to become a postmaster.
Mr Patel said: “I have had meeting after meeting with the Royal Mail. Up to just days before they said they were closing branches, they told me they were processing my application. I have spent so long sorting this out and they have treated me despicably.”
The Belsize Residents Association’s Gene Adams, who has worked to force Royal Mail to honour their promise, said: “They have messed us about. They have behaved disgracefully. Royal Mail must stick to their promise to replace the one they closed.
“If the post offices in South End Green and England’s Lane shut, you will have to get on a bus or Tube to find a stamp.”
And other potential sites have been mooted. The Friends of Hampstead Town Hall suggested using space in the building in Haverstock Hill. Chairwoman Helen Marcus said: “It is ideally placed, it would replace the one that was lost and also bring some income to the Town Hall.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said the business environment had changed since the promise was made two years ago. He said: “We have no plans to open any branch on Haverstock Hill.
Highgate Society chairman Robin Fairlie said the planned closure of the Highgate branch was a particularly bloody blow for the elderly or frail because of the geography of the village. The nearest branch would be in Archway Road, meaning an arduous walk uphill afterwards.
He said: “This is no joke – if the closure goes ahead, to get to a post office will mean walking up one of the steepest hills in London.”
A wave of protests against each closure has begun, with petitions, public meetings and demonstrations organised.
The South End Green Association have arranged a meeting at the Heath Library in Keats Grove on Tuesday, starting at 7.30pm. They have invited the Post Office, Help The Aged, MP Glenda Jackson and customer watchdog Postwatch to speak.
A demonstration outside the Crowndale Road post office takes place on Monday at 3.30pm.
In Highgate, the society have handed out petitions and hundreds have signed, while another petition to save the England’s Lane branch has already garnered over 1,000 names.

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