The Post Office has announced that it will be closing 37 Crown branches this year. A Crown branch is one owned and run by the Post Office itself. And according to the CWU (Communication Workers Union) this will see the loss 300 jobs and 127 specialist roles. The union also claims that 2000 jobs have been lost at the Post Office since the start of 2016.
You can find a list of the planned closures here (scroll down). They range from London to Cornwall and include Liverpool, Sussex and Scotland too.
The Post Office said: “With consumer habits changing, and the high cost of maintaining premises in prime high street locations, franchising helps us to keep services where our customers want and need them.”
Down my way in Sussex, we lost our crown branch last year. It was a sad affair but it clearly wasn’t commercially viable as a premises or establishment. Where were the ecommerce services and pick-up lockers? It was a relic of a bygone age. Local objections seemed focussed on the past and not the future.
That said, the various local alternatives (franchised and not far really), haven’t shaped up to be as good as the crown office when it comes to service. The town centre branch in a national chain always has long queues. The newsagent franchise is just shoddy and disorganised. Never more than one window in service at a time.
So when people get too dewy eyed about their local crown Post Office branch, what do they weep for? Obviously, in a village or small town, it can mean a serious reduction of local services. But in an urban area with local alternatives the loss is with service.
It doesn’t really matter whether the Post Office branch is a crown branch or not. It just has to be good and focussed on customers. But you may very well disagree?