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Message from St Leonards: Patrick Glass hands over copies of 450 protest letters from local residents to the PO's Laura Tarling.

Message from St Leonards: Patrick Glass hands over copies of 450 protest letters from local residents to the PO’s Laura Tarling.

Taking the message to PO Ltd

It wasn’t the best day to visit Post Office Ltd headquarters in London, but despite the incessant and at times torrential rain, four intrepid emissaries from Save St Leonards Crown Post Office did just that on Wednesday, to hand over copies of letters from local residents protesting about their plans for our post office. Nick Terdre, one of the four, reports.

The others were Caroline Lebreton, Patrick Glass and Will Stevens. PO Ltd headquarters is located in Finsbury Dials, a smart office block which lies between Moorgate and the Barbican. The pavement is narrow, the security in the building was unfriendly and as they went in and out at lunchtime, several PO staff tut-tutted at the cardboard replicas of pillar boxes we had taken with us for being symbols of Royal Mail, an entirely separate, and already privatised, company.

The Post Office is still a publicly owned company, though if it is allowed to go on disposing of its assets, including the St Leonards Crown PO, it will also eventually be ripe for privatisation.

Personal message for the CEO

Caroline and crown (and Royal Mail pillar box) (photo: Patrick Glass).

Caroline and crown (and Royal Mail pillar box) (photo: Patrick Glass).

Local residents having left no doubt about their opposition to the scheme at the public meeting last week, it had been decided to make our feelings known personally to PO Ltd CEO Paula Vennells by handing in copies of 450 letters of protest from local residents.

Addressed to the business secretary Greg Clark, the originals will form part of a national act of protest organised by the Union of Communication Workers involving all the communities whose Crown offices are up for sale.

Security at Finsbury Dials, which houses other companies than PO Ltd, were not happy at the idea of letting us into the building , but Caroline managed to get a message delivered to the Post Office and a receptionist came down to speak to us. Caroline explained our mission – not just to hand over the mail but to secure a photographic record for our campaign.

Laura to the rescue

The communications department was alerted and suddenly we found ourselves talking to Laura Tarling, who led the PO team at last week’s meeting in the Royal Victoria Hotel, and a senior colleague. They were amenable to the idea, and we were finally allowed just inside the front door, while Patrick penetrated as far as the PO reception desk where the handover was made and the photograph taken.

The delivery also included personalised letters from Fiona MacGregor, Kay Avery and Patrick himself to Ms Vennells and members of the PO board. In her letter Fiona MacGregor pointed out that, “Privatisation of a public service is not ‘modernisation’. There is nothing modern about reducing service, driving down wages and inconveniencing customers, whilst pursuing profit above all other considerations.”

One of the points made by Kay was, “I do not believe PO Ltd has any of our communities’ best interests at heart nor do I feel you have any intention of wishing the Crown Post Office to remain in our town. Your total disregard for our opinion in your handling of this ‘consultation process’ has shown that.”

Mission completed, Caroline, Patrick and I left Will  to try and make contact with an old acquaintance who works in PO headquarters and set off for Cannon Street station. On the way we passed a plaque commemorating the location of the General Letter Office in the mid 17th century.

The city is rich in reminders of Post Office history (photo: Caroline Lebreton).

The city is rich in reminders of Post Office history (photo: Caroline Lebreton).

Rich history of the postal services

It is one of various reminders in the City of the rich history of the postal services – not so far away is a statue of Rowland Hill, a true moderniser of the service in the mid 1800s who was responsible for introducing penny postage.

On the way up Caroline and Patrick had boarded a train to Charing Cross, only to find it diverted en route to Cannon Street. Our journey back was also disrupted. When we arrived at Cannon Street we found that the Hastings service due to leave in half an hour was suddenly cancelled and were told we would have to catch a train from London Bridge.

We arrived there only to find we had to wait more than an hour and a half for the next departure. Eventually we were on our way and finally, at about 4.45pm,  we arrived back in St Leonards, still soggy but feeling we’d struck a blow for our campaign.

Flying the flag for the Save St Leonards Crown Post Office campaign (photo: Caroline Lebreton).

Flying the flag for the Save St Leonards Crown Post Office campaign outside PO Ltd headquarters (photo: Caroline Lebreton).

 

Posted 11:12 Sunday, Aug 13, 2017 In: Campaigns


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