Post Office branches in the Royal Borough have not had a good innings in recent years. Since 2004 we have seen nine closures across the borough, in spite of concerted campaigns by residents and Councillors to keep them open.
Last March I wrote to Post Office boss Paula Vennells to protest at the closure of Kings Walk Post Office. The lease on the building had expired. I explained that it was an enormous loss to Chelsea residents, many of whom are elderly, do not own a car and are dependent on their local office and asked if it was possible to look for alternative locations or talk with Cadogan Estate to see if another site could be found.
The solicitous reply, acknowledged that the closure would create difficulties for some customers, but offered no hope that it would find another site.
Now it seems there is another closure on the cards, this time it is the Earls Court branch at 185 Earl’s Court Road.
The Post Office is proposing merging the Earls Court branch with the Kensington High Street branch and says that the proposed merger is part of its on-going plans to create a network that is sustainable and modern.
It argues that the number of customers using Earls Court has declined over the past five years and the branch is no longer commercially sustainable.
While I have sympathy for any organisation working to meet the challenges of operating in the twenty-first century, I have real concerns about the loss of another local post office and the impact this will have on residents.
Also, given the lengthy queues witnessed in the branch, the idea that it is ‘not profitable’ does stretch credibility.
Local Councillors from Earl’s Court ward have already met with Post Office officials to hammer home what a valuable community asset this branch is for an area that is home to a high number of supported and sheltered housing complexes. Not only that, but there are a number of new residential developments planned for the area.
The Post Office has already started a twelve-week consultation on the proposed merger and I urge all residents to respond to it.
Be sure to remind your neighbours and friends, who may be on holiday now, to respond before Wednesday 16 September. You can find details of it here www.postofficeviews.co.uk/liveconsultation.php by searching searching ‘Earls Court’.
You can question Post Office officials yourself at a public meeting the Council is organising on Tuesday 8 September at St Cuthbert’s Church, Philbeach Gardens, SW5 9EB. It will start at 7pm.
If you cannot make the meeting, email your questions and concerns directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03457 223344.
Whichever channel you choose please do take time to let the Post Office know your views.