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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 27 March 2008
Post Office closure decisions irrational

Dear Prime Minister,

• YOU are reported to have warned MPs opposing further closure that post offices would close because the Post Office was losing £500,000 a day.

The Post Office has been a provider of public service for 176 years. It is not a profit-making body; it has always been tax-based and if it needs be to richer people must be taxed much more.
The Post Office is there to serve people of all ages including an increasing number of old, infirm people and a large number of disabled people. It has been providing more and more essential services to communities all over the country and it did so even during the darkest economic days of the country.
Now we are bent upon closing 2,500 more in addition to the many more closed in the last 10 years. What decision can be more irrational than this? It looks like we are now in celebration of vast salaries and by implication determined to disadvantage the most vulnerable people with modest and much below average income.
I have lived in London for the last 42 years, of those 24 years in Belsize Park, Hampstead. Belsize ward at one time had three post offices including a large one on Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park.
Now we have only one post office in England’s Lane, in a small corner of a room, most of which is occupied by a chemist. The post office corner is full all the time with people, including vulnerable old people and many disabled people, queueing up to collect benefits, to post parcels, small and large, to various places in the UK and to other places all over the world; to deposit in and withdraw money from the post office bank while some are having their prescriptions dispensed by the chemist and some are buying a variety of articles available at the chemist’s shop throughout six days of a week. The place is a meeting place for many in the community. Still the only such place left in the ward is on the list of closures.
Finally, if it is actually closed, it will be pure vandalism for the sake of marketising the service.
Antrim Road, NW3

New model

• GLENDA Jackson MP has just sent a letter to her constituents – me included – berating the council for not doing more to support local post offices.
Pardon me? Which government is it that’s decided to close 2,500 post offices and the last sub-post office in Belsize? The Labour government. And which party is Glenda Jackson a member of?
Many of you will have heard that Essex County Council is negotiating to take over half of their threatened post offices at a cost of £1.5 million over three years. The hope is that they will find enough council business to route through the post offices to make them viable. Our officers have been talking to Essex and others about this. If we can find a way to pick up the pieces that the government has dropped, then we will.
But we would probably have to raise council tax to pay for it, which we really don’t want to do.
The Liberal Democrat national alternative to the Labour government’s death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy is to create a new ownership model for the Post Office.
We would keep the majority of the company in public ownership, but also give Post Office employees a stake in their company (the John Lewis approach). And we would allow the Post Office to borrow on the open market like a normal business, and sell some shares to outside investors, to provide much-needed investment in existing and new post offices.
Lib Dem, Belsize ward

Long walk

• LETTERS to you about Post Office closures have concentrated on Crowndale Road and South End Green.
There are others under threat, notably in England’s Lane. I live five or 10 minutes’ walk from that excellent sub-post office, but if it closes, I shall have to walk 800 yards to Belsize Avenue and the catch a bus either to Finchley Road or to Hampstead. I am 87, none too good a walker, and the road trip would take me about 40 minutes, plus waiting time at the post office This is intolerable.
Address supplied, NW3


• NEW Labour’s obsession with profit-making has seen Labour MPs hypocritically trooping into the commons to vote for the closure of 2,500 local post offices.
The Post Office is a valuable public asset, just like our schools and hospitals. It provides services for the most vulnerable in our society, often those subsisting on a meagre state pension.
Everyone should back the protest to stop the closure of our local post offices tomorrow (Friday March 28) at noon outside the Crowndale Road post office.
Respect, the Left List activist, W1

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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