Meeting is a red letter day for Uckfield post office

A petition to save Uckfield Crown post office was handed over.
A petition to save Uckfield Crown post office was handed over.

Campaigners against closing Uckfield’s stand-alone Crown Post Office held a public meeting on Thursday, November 14.

Local residents were given the chance to air their views, ask questions and find out more about the plans and campaign to save the office.

Plans have already been announced to move the Post Office service into WH Smith in the High Street.

But many people were concerned that would lead to a cut-back in services, longer queues, less well-informed staff, cramped conditions and difficulty of access for customers with limited mobility.

Invited speakers included Charles Hendry MP, Emily Westley (Labour Euro candidate,) Carl Maden (national office of the Communication Workers Union) and a representative from the Post Office itself.

Carl Maden said: “Uckfield’s Crown Post office is popular, well-used and greatly appreciated by the local community. The staff have decades of experience and bring a range of expert services to customers which, we fear, would be lost under a franchise arrangement.

“The Post Office is a key attraction which draws people to the top end of the High Street. We’re concerned that if the Post Office was to be lost from this location, local retailers in that area would lose out as there would be minimal reason to go to that end of the High Street.

“There are ways to keep this office open and we’re calling on the company to listen to the views of its staff and customers.”

CWU is the trade union representing staff working in Crown Post Offices. These are the large, town-centre offices directly owned and managed by the Post office. The company wants to close and/or franchise 75 of these offices across the country in cost-cutting exercises.

A six week consultation period began on October 14 where customers and anyone interested was invited to comment on the proposal to move the Post Office into Smiths.

A proposed date for the move has now been set for the New Year, but Uckfield Town Councillors have expressed their concerns, saying that the decision appears to have been made, irrespective of what they - or the town’s customers - have said.

The Post Office itself says the move is part of a major modernisation programme across the network designed to ensure branches more ‘sustainable, profitable and no longer reliant on Government funding.’