Burnley councillors have denied doing an “about turn” in their bid to save Burnley’s Crown Post Office after it emerged that the council had put forward options for a new premises.
The leader of Burnley Borough Council, Coun. Julie Cooper, launched a campaign late last year to save the service in its current form when the Post Office announced that the branch in Hargreaves Street had been shortlisted to be franchised.
Coun. Cooper stressed that the office should remain in its historic Hargreaves Street home and that a franchiseship would lead to a loss of services and jobs.
It has now emerged that the council’s Economic Regeneration Scrutiny Committee has carried out a review of the plans and has recommended that the council negotiate with Post Office Ltd to find another suitable site, or council-owned building, in the town centre as long as that would save its crown status and retain all its services.
Coun. Andy Tatchell, assistant secretary of the North Lancashire and Cumbria Communications Workers Union, said: “This is not an about turn. Our priority has always been to retain a crown post office in Burnley with all the services that provides.
“In a recent public meeting, Post Office bosses insisted that the Hargreaves Street building is too large and is losing the organisation money. They say there are a lot of unoccupied rooms.
“If we can offer suitable alternatives in the town centre then we hope this will stop the post office being franchised which no-one wants to see.”
The Burnley Express understands that at least one interested party has expressed an interest in taking the franchise of the post office.
Coun. Shah Hussain, Executive member for regeneration and economic development, said: “This is about saving post office services for our residents. We don’t want to see Burnley’s main post office downgraded. It provides a wide range of vital services to people and we need to make sure those services are kept running.
“The scrutiny committee reviewed the proposal to move the post office from crown status to a franchise outlet and came to the conclusion that there was real danger that customers could suffer as a result.
“We believe that moving the main post office to another town centre location will save services and jobs, provide and allow the Post Office to offer a wider range of services.”
Earlier this year Post Office Ltd announced proposals to transfer 70 Crown branches to partner retail operators under franchise agreements.