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Row over plan for WHSmith to run Ipswich Post Office

PUBLISHED: 11:18 02 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:18 02 December 2018

The union protesters were joined by councillors, Sandy Martin MP and partner agencies throughout the day Picture: CWU

The union protesters were joined by councillors, Sandy Martin MP and partner agencies throughout the day Picture: CWU

Archant

Save our Post Office - that was the message from union members and Ipswich’s MP as they protested outside against a town branch being run by a national high street chain.

A Post Office is already inside the Tavern Street WHSmith, but staff inside are employed and trained by the government-owned Post Office.

However proposed changes mean WHSmith could run the branch as a franchise.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) staged a protest outside the store on Saturday, December 1, saying it thinks the franchising of the Ipswich branch and 73 others nationwide will lead to worse customer service and the potential loss of jobs.

However the Post Office says the change is “part of the continuing modernisation of the Post Office network”, adding: “Our priority is to ensure that we provide services that will meet customer needs, both now and into the future, in a way which will secure the long-term viability of Post Office services in Ipswich.”

The CWU was joined by a representative from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which say having the Post Office on the first floor of the store makes it harder to access Picture: CWUThe CWU was joined by a representative from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which say having the Post Office on the first floor of the store makes it harder to access Picture: CWU

David Cull, branch manager for the CWU in Suffolk, said after the event: “We got a lot of signatures on our petition today, even after the rain came in this afternoon.

“We know with the post office, the staff are supported by our union and have a pension that allows them to retire with some dignity.

“It’s the people that work there that look after the people that go there - they deserve to be treated right.”

Over the past five years, the Post Office has announced the closure of 150 crown buildings - those that are the largest flagship offices in prominent high-street locations.

The protestors were outside the store in the sunshine and rain making their case to the people of Ipswich Picture: CWUThe protestors were outside the store in the sunshine and rain making their case to the people of Ipswich Picture: CWU

When these close, a retailer such as WHSmith may step in and provide a counter in store so towns still have post office provisions.

It was announced in November that 74 more crown offices will be closed or franchised, which would mean a cut of 60% to the number of offices since 2013.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said: “I’ll be continuing my work to raise awareness about this issue for the public.

“I think it is important people know that this is going on and people need to know that privatisation is coming into the Post Office.”

The Post Office in town is already inside WH Smith but is staffed by Post Office staff, not by WH Smith staff Picture: CWUThe Post Office in town is already inside WH Smith but is staffed by Post Office staff, not by WH Smith staff Picture: CWU

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