London,
03
April
2008
|
00:00
Europe/London

Save our Post Offices

SAVE our Post Offices, or risk harming the most vulnerable members of society is the message from Hackney on controversial plans for closures.

The Council is supporting residents across the borough in protesting against proposals to close seven of Hackney’s 26 local branches.

This represents more than a quarter of the borough’s Post Offices, vital services for residents in one of the most deprived areas of the country.

The Council has sent a detailed report to the Post Office outlining how this would affect local people, particularly in areas with no banks or building societies, and with few non-charging cash machines.

Tim Shields, Hackney Council’s Chief Executive, said: “Our message is clear - these closure proposals would impact significantly on the most vulnerable residents in the borough.

“The Post Office says that customers would still be within a mile of their nearest branch, but that is a long and difficult journey for some, particularly older people.

“We strongly urge the Post Office to reconsider its plans, and to take full account of their effects on the lives of Hackney residents.

“More research is needed on how neighbouring branches would cope with extra demand,” he added.

Hackney faces losing 27% of its Post Offices, compared to an average rate of 18%, despite the borough being in one of the ten most deprived areas nationally .

It is estimated that up to 35% of those living in urban deprived areas, like Hackney, do not have access to bank accounts, and use Post Offices to pay bills and withdraw cash instead.

A resident wrote to the Council and said: “I work with a number of elderly and disabled people who will find the closure of their local Post Office in Hackney very difficult.”

Another wrote: “A mile may not seem far for a young, healthy or fit person but for an elderly or disabled person it may be an almost impossible journey.”

Hackney Homes research has shown that more than half of the rent paid by social housing tenants is paid at Post Offices.

The Council also believes there are at least 14,500 more residents in Hackney than the official figures based on the 2001 census, potentially skewing the Post Office’s capacity research.

The Greater London Authority is also taking the Post Office to the High Court in a bid to extend the consultation period.