Local MPs met with a representative of Post Office Limited in the Houses of Parliament to discuss urgent action on the planned closure of the branch in Oldham town centre.
The meeting is part of a campaign led by local MPs Angela Rayner, Debbie Abrahams and Jim McMahon.
At the meeting the MPs highlighted the clear problems with proposed move, notably access to the site at WH Smith for elderly and disabled customers, as well as the potential for worker’s rights to be downgraded.
Post Office Limited have admitted that the Oldham branch is ‘a busy branch from the point of view of customer visits’, but their answer is that the proposed new site at WH Smith is large enough to accommodate this demand. This is despite admitting that some services will not carry over, and employees rights are at risk.
Post Office confirmed that if the closure goes ahead most services currently offered through the branch will transfer over to the new location, however the ATM at the site will be lost and the UK Visa and Immigration Biometric Enrolment Service will not continue either.
The rights of branch employees also remain uncertain, with Post Office Limited confirming:
“We absolutely recognise that this is an uncertain and difficult time for our colleagues that work at the branch and we will be providing them with all the information they require around their options and offering any support they need once the branch starts its period of public consultation.”
A written Parliamentary question from the three MPs has been sent to the Postal Service Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP demanding an explanation from her as to why the closures are going ahead.
Post Office Limited are working towards a consultation starting from January onwards, and it is an opportunity to highlight the importance of this local service to the people of Oldham.
Debbie Abrahams, Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said:
“Our post office is a vital community asset to the people of Oldham and it shouldn’t be downgraded and hived off to prop up a struggling private sector retailer.
“There has been no effort at consulting local people about this move by either Post Office Ltd or the Government and it’s no wonder when Consumer Focus and Citizen’s Advice have reported longer queues, inferior service and poor disabled access when Crown offices are transferred to WHSmith.
“There are many unanswered questions such as how much money has been earmarked for payments to staff in this round of privatisations and what financial oversight does the Government maintain over the use of public money by Post Office Ltd to run the post office network?”