People’s Post Office… Which people?

Despite being a local councillor now I don't want to make my blog entries too parochial so I will try to balance highly ward-specific posts with my usual topics.

However there is a local matter I do want to raise today… and it's Post Offices. At the end of last year the local Green Party hosted a meeting to discuss proposed Post Office closures for Brighton & Hove. Representatives from the Post Office were not particularly convincing arguing that long queues currently experienced were simply the Christmas rush. They also admitted that the usage figures their closure plans were worked from predated the closure of our Crown Post Office in Ship Street, a large facility that was relocated to WH Smith.

This relocation was a poor idea and seem obvious to me and so many others at the time. A wonderful building with a long history as a Post Office was vacated, and is still empty, and another service was pulled into the private space of the ghastly Churchill Square shopping centre.

Additionally the skilled and experienced staff were offered jobs at 'shelf-stacker' wages by WH Smith. Understandably they took their redundancy packages instead. We have ended up the city's main Post Office being in the drab basement of WH Smith, with low-paid inexperienced staff and huge queues – which are not a symptom on Christmas.

I've been trying to post two packages for a week. Last Friday at 2.30pm there were 28 people in the queue and I saw six or seven others turn away when they saw the queue before I too gave up having seen the queue not move an inch. On Monday at 5.20pm there were 15 people in the queue, again unmoving. Even at it's busiest times the old office had a queue that always moved.

We're in a position where our current Post Office facilities are insufficient and they want to close more – it's absurd.