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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 13 March 2008
Post office closure will hit the most needy among us

• I CONSIDER the proposed closure of the post office in Crowndale Road, Somers Town, to be a great mistake.
The post office, and the shop in which it is sited, is central to the community. The outstanding people who run the establishment show a care and patience for customers, both regular and occasional, that is second to none. Some customers who use the service regularly are people in great need. The compassion, patience and care they receive could not be replaced by other similar shops and services.
To close the post office threatens the existence of the shop, which is a community resource to residents and the large number of people who work at the hospital and in other places close by.
My other concern is the importance of the shop and post office to patients of the Huntley Centre, a hospital for mental health at the heart of our community.
I am constantly struck by the level of acceptance and careful attention these vulnerable people receive from staff. This community resource cannot be replaced by less personal shops and a post office in Camden High Street. These people are important to us who live in this area and we want their needs considered.
For older residents, and other folk who find it more difficult to move around, the loss of the post office, and possible threat to the existence of the shop, is of great concern.
People who are on benefits need a post office close by. Why should they have to go further and deal with people less well known to them?
As others have commented, the Crowndale post office was retained in the past to ease the burden on the one in the High Street. It seems that demand has increased and not decreased. Its loss will be a great mistake.
To suggest that essential services can be accessed elsewhere, such as the internet, is a complete misunderstanding of what we mean by the term community. Places where people are known, recognised and valued are what community is about.
I encourage people to sign the petition to save the Crowndale Road post office. It is central to the community. To lose it will mean many of the most needy among us will suffer, and I consider these to be the most important members of our community.
St Pancras Vicarage
Albert Street, NW1

• AGE Concern Camden wishes to express its support for campaigns to keep the post office in Crowndale Road open.
The post office is hugely important to many people in the community but particularly for older people. We know the vast majority of older people consider their local post office to be a lifeline which provides so much more than just a postal service. Many older people in St Pancras and Somers Town use their post office as a one-stop shop for access to cash, benefits and information, as well as somewhere to meet and socialise.
This is the last chance for people in Camden to help save our post office. We know how important the post office is to our community, particularly for older people in the area, many of whom rely on the first-class services that it provides. It is vital we make it clear how important our post office is to us.
There is still time for people to make their voices heard before the consultation on the future of the post office ends on April 2.
The future of our post office is hanging in the balance so make sure you get involved.
Chief officer, Age Concern Camden

THE news that the government is quietly prepared to allow Essex County Council to halt post office closures and set up offices inside other premises provides all local authorities with an excellent opportunity.
Let no one say that persistent public opposition to the Post Office and the Royal Mail on this issue has gone unheard. Our local MPs (Glenda Jackson has said post offices currently dominate her postbag), the Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority and every political party group on Camden Council have responded to the strength of feeling expressed almost weekly in the New Journal and daily in the ever-lengthening post office queues.
Will our regional and local politicians now follow Essex’s example and assure the public that this historic service will be preserved and promoted with a practical and proactive scheme for individual branches?
Gene Adams
Belsize Post Office Action Group

IF Camden Council is serious about supporting local post offices then it should follow the lead of Essex County Council in bidding to run local post offices. The council is currently negotiating a buy-out price from the Post Office and has said some 15 branches could be saved within two months. It has also got the all-clear from Post Office Minister Pat McFadden.
With special concern in Belsize Park and in my ward of Somers Town, surely the council which has just announced reserves of some £50million – an all-time high – could step in and do the same?
Come on Camden, put your money where your mouth is!
Labour, St Pancras and Somers Town ward

AS a pensioner the wrong side of 80 and physically handicapped, I consider the South End Green post office in Hampstead to be my lifeline.
I can just manage to walk there from the end of Constantine Road but I cannot manage to travel by bus to the bank or larger post office up the hill. I need South End Green post office and the shop for my pension and much else.
Name and address supplied

WE are disappointed that Minesh Patel does not mention the fact that Post Office Ltd offered him the subpostmaster appointment for Haverstock Hill twice – and both times he turned it down (Postal dispute is far from sorted, February 29).
Contrary to his claims, the fact is that Post Office Ltd has bent over backwards to try to accommodate him over a period of years. In September, 2004, we offered him the appointment and financial assistance to set it up. He turned this down. In April, 2005, we offered him the appointment again and agreed to reduce the number of counters from three to two to help with costs. This, too, he turned down.
We agreed to meet Mr Patel again on several occasions in the years following that, but it was only in November last year that he indicated he was considering applying again. At this time he was informed of the deadline for his completed application. By the deadline – nearly three months later – no application had been received from Mr Patel. The fact is that we offered every assistance to help him with an application during this time.
It is now fully four years since the Haverstock Hill branch closed and we have not received any applications from parties willing to make the investment needed to set up a viable post office in the area.
We would normally conduct a review to consider permanent closure, once a branch has been temporarily closed (as was the case with Haverstock Hill) for a year, if no applicants have come forward. However, in an effort to try to secure a new branch for the area, we extended this significantly.
During this time, we offered Mr Patel financial assistance, a reduction in the number of counters and significant numbers of meetings to advise him how best to apply so we are deeply disappointed at his comments.
Regional development manager
Post Office Ltd

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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