Speaking in response to today’s announcement by the Post Office about the closure of Lendal, Rachael Maskell MP for York Central said the Post Office and the Government were turning their backs on residents and businesses in York and ignoring 3,094 residents who signed the petition presented in Parliament last night calling for the branch to stay open.
The deplorable decision announced today will see York’s Crown Post Office close its doors on 3rd April after 135 years trading in the city. York’s Crown Post office will be replaced by a limited number of Post Office counters located at the back corner of the WHSmith Store on Coney Street.
During the 6-week consultation city centre businesses have told the MP that they will no longer see banking with the Post Office as a safe option. Unlike Lendal, customers will be unable to park directly outside or close to WHSmith, meaning the new franchised counters will be inaccessible to many people with restricted mobility.
Ms. Maskell has been campaigning to stop the proposed closure of Lendal Post Office in immediate response to the threatened closure. To date this has included; presenting the petition to Parliament, meeting on five occasions with Post Office Management, taking part on a Health and Safety site inspection with the Communication Workers Union (CWU), asking a number of questions in Parliament and taking part in two Parliamentary debates. The MP for York Central has addressed Kelly Tolhurst MP, the Minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on numerous occasions, but the Minister has refused to intervene. Following these interventions, Rachael Maskell MP has secured an urgent meeting with the Minister, where she will ask her to take immediate action to halt the closure pending a full investigation into the impact this will have on the city centre and people of York.
Rachael Maskell MP says:
“During the consultation, serious Health and Safety concerns have been raised about how post and high value goods will be transferred from the shop, which have been completely ignored.
“Over the last 2-months there has been a perception amongst many people I’ve spoken to that the consultation was a foregone conclusion. Discovering that jobs at the new franchised Post Office in WHSmith were being advertised before the consultation had ended did nothing to allay these concerns.
“We understand that Lendal Post Office is a viable business in an accessible high street that is well used by residents, business and visitors alike. It is a centre where people can access a huge range of services that actively draws people into the city centre who will otherwise go elsewhere. This is not about York or services, but yet another example of a public body selling off part of our incredible city for a quick financial fix which the people of York will not see a direct benefit from.
“During the campaign I was very interested to hear Harold Wood’s work as part of the Home Guard team that protected Lendal Post Office in 1942 during the York Blitz. As Harold said the Luftwaffe could not destroy the Post Office. It is extremely sad to see our publicly owned Post Office doing just that.
“Over the past 2-months we have seen the city come together to firmly reject this proposal and the Post Office has simply not listened. It is extremely disappointing that York’s Tory and Liberal Democrat Council refused Labour’s request to submit a consultation response to the Post Office on behalf of the City asking that the Post Office continues to be located on Lendal, which is in the best interest of the whole city.
“People will now rightly be very concerned about the future of this magnificent building and it’s historically significant interior which includes an important war memorial. There is a lot of concern that it will join the ranks of other boarded up shops a long Coney Street or become yet another bar in our city centre.
“Thanks to all those who have campaigned to save our post office, under Labour it would be very different. Thanks to the CWU too, staff will be devastated to learn that the Post Office is closing and the city will be all the poorer for the loss of expertise that we will see if any of the current staff do not transfer over. Labour believes that York Crown Post Office provides a public service to the residents and businesses of York, and best serves the city from its current location.”