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Five of ‘The Seaford Six’ caught on camera Photo © Cliff van Coeverden

Decision imminent on St Leonards Crown Post Office: Public Meeting this Saturday, 21 October

The campaign to Save St Leonards’ Crown Post Office is one-year old next month. The final decision on its future is imminent. A Public Meeting has been arranged by campaigners for this coming Saturday, 21 October, to bring residents up-to-date with developments and to seek views on the next steps. Rosie Brocklehurst writes.

The public meeting will begin at 11 am at the Isabel Blackman Centre, South Street, behind London Road, St Leonards.  A mass-letter-posting event will be held at the Crown Post Office from 12 noon.

00Seaford

© Cliff van Coeverden

Local people will have an opportunity to ask questions of politicians and campaigners and make their views known. Individual reports will be given, including the status of the Pledge campaign where people signed certificates and committed to boycott non-Post Office goods sold in a franchised shop.  The Campaign team of local volunteers will report on the visit made by them to the Post Office HQ in London and speak about recent links made with Newhaven campaigners. Last Saturday, five members of the campaign group met up with Newhaven campaigner Jennifer Jones to hand in over 500 pledges at Seaford Post Office (see above). The pledges were all signed by St Leonards residents and tell Mr Muttiah that they will not buy any items from his tobacconist/newsagents business that he plans to run alongside the Post Office services if PO Ltd agree to sell the Post Office building to him, and choose him as their ‘chosen franchise partner’.

Newhaven’s Crown Post Office was franchised to Mr Alphonson Selvakumar Muttiah on 19 September. The decision for St Leonards Crown Post Office was scheduled to be announced one month after Newhaven – any day now!

Mr Muttiah is the same franchisee lined up by Post Office Ltd to buy the London Road Crown Post Office building at a favourable price and to run the franchise for a fixed term under contract, after which time he is free to close the Post Office and develop and sell the building.

“It was obvious at the Victoria Hotel ‘consultation’ on 3 August that Post Office Ltd had no genuine intention of consulting at all, but had already found a buyer they preferred. They did not reckon with the strength of feeling expressed by locals, and seemed not only unaware of Mr Muttiah’s prior conviction in 2009, for selling alcohol to minors at his Post Office in Tadworth, Surrey, but utterly unconcerned when informed about it,” said Paul Franczak, one St Leonards resident who was there.

Save St Leonards Crown Post Office campaigner Erica Smith added: “All our many FOI requests have met with weasel words and a stubborn refusal to be transparent about anything, including any information on profitability or sale price of the building, which is a ‘public asset’. They hide behind the phrase “commercially sensitive,” when their whole approach has been to show complete insensitivity to us and to ignore the long-term needs of local people and businesses.”

People from St Leonards are asked to write a postcard for a ‘mass posting’ event after the meeting. This will form the photo opportunity. Residents will be provided with blank postcards addressed to the CEO of the Post Office, Paula Vennells, Post Office Ltd., Finsbury Dials, Finsbury Street, London EC2Y 9AQ.

The meeting is at 11am at the Isabel Blackman Centre, South Street, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 6AP.
The mass posting will be at noon to 12.30pm at the Crown Post Office in London Road, St Leonards.
All local residents are invited to attend both events.

For more information about the Seaford Six, read HOT’s article from 11 October.

Posted 23:24 Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017 In: Campaigns

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