BURNLEY’S Head Post Office is to close in its current form and be franchised.
The Post Office has announced it is to franchise 20% of all British Crown post offices, including Burnley’s Hargreaves Street branch, and will almost certainly lead to the loss of services and jobs.
Under the plans, branches will close and Post Office services will be operated from shops in the local area.
Leader of Burnley Council Coun. Julie Cooper described the decision as a huge blow for Burnley.
She said: “The GPO in Burnley is a very well used and much-valued facility. Its closure will be a huge loss to individuals and businesses who rely on it for a range of services.
“This decision has been taken without any consultation having taken place. I will be opposing this closure every step of the way and I urge local people to join with me in the fight to save our post office.”
Communication Workers’ Union General Secretary Billy Hayes called the move a “partial destruction of the Crown network” and raised concerns about access to services and survival of the Post Office network.
He added: “This move will have a huge impact on the high streets of small towns earmarked to lose their Crown Post Office. These offices provide a dedicated specialist service to communities which will not be replicated by a window or two in a bigger shop.
“We’ve seen problems with access to post office services in previous franchise arrangements and fear this announcement could create further barriers to accessing a range of post office services.”
The Post Office said: “Crown branches are a fundamental part of our long-term growth strategy and need to be brought into profit (currently operating at a £40m. annual loss). To maintain our high street presence we will be looking to find retail partners for 70 of our branches enabling us to stay in these locations.
“The 70 branches that have the potential to be partnered with a retailer will be subject to a six-week public consultation to gather the views of the local community. We are committed to having a Post Office branch within the area.
“If no retail partner is found we are still committed to having a Crown Post Office within the area. This is not a closure programme and there are no compulsory redundancies planned as part of this strategy.”