Cities of London and Westminster representative, Mark Field MP, met Post Office managers on Monday to express residents’ and City workers’ concerns over the closure of their local Post Office in New Bridge Street.
The Ludgate Circus Crown Post Office is set to shut its doors for good later this year in line with cost-cutting measures being implemented across the Post Office network. A twelve week public consultation process is now underway on the proposed closure which will end on 2 April.
Since the plan was announced, Mark has received a significant number of letters and emails from those in the Square Mile who stand to be affected and he made their thoughts known to Post Office representatives at a meeting in Portcullis House.
Constituents have expressed concern that services in the area will seriously decline and Mark was keen to speak up for the growing residential population in the Temple who may be left with few working options following the closure. He also spoke on behalf of those working in the Square Mile who feel the nearby alternative Post Offices on Blackfriars Road and Farringdon Road are too far to visit in a lunch hour. There is understandable concern that these Offices will not be able to cope with the extra volume of work from the Ludgate Circus closure and queues will increase.
With waiting times of thirty minutes or more at peak times, many constituents fail to see how the Ludgate Circus branch cannot continue as a sustainable and viable business. Responding to this, Post Office representatives explained the difficulties they are facing in providing services in the area. With retail space being rented at significant cost in central London, the Post Office would have difficulty both in retaining its current site and persuading franchisees to give up square footage to install Post Office counters in another store, although several attempts have been made to find a sustainable and profitable model. Moving a franchisee on site has also been considered as an option but the retail space available is not easily accessible or well configured.
Around half of the business at the Ludgate Circus Office comes from ‘mails work’, that is the posting of parcels, special deliveries and the like, whilst the more profitable financial services on offer are not taken up by as many City customers. This makes the Post Office look busy but does not translate into profit. In attempts to make the operation work, staff costs have been significantly reduced over recent years but this has still not allowed the branch to cover overheads.
A public meeting on the closure will be held in March to allow for residents and workers to formally raise their concerns. By this time, the Post Office hopes to have a ‘better idea of the bigger picture’ and information on whether a less costly nearby site can be secured for the operation. No formal announcements on the results of the consultation will be made until after the mayoral elections in May. Should the closure plans go ahead, the site will cease to operate a minimum of four weeks after announcements.
To comment on the proposals
Write: Mr Craig Tuthill, Regional Development Manager, Post Office Ltd.,c/o National Consultation Team, FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM
Call: 01226 273550