Save our Crowns – protests spread
1st March 2013
Post Office bosses' recent announcement of plans
to franchise some 70 crowns around the country will impact
disproportionately on Wales, where eight out of only 20 across the
nation have been targeted, and protests have been held in several
"This is 40 per cent of our Crown Offices," said
Gary Watkins, CWU regional secretary for Wales,
where towns and communities from Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan up
to Denbighshire, Flintshire and Anglesey in the north face the
downgrade of their local postal services.
Around 100 people attended a rally in Carmarthen last
week (BBC news South West Wales: Carmarthen
post office: Rally over 'shop move' worry), to hear
local mayor and the town's MP speak out against the franchise
Gary said that, in the south of the nation, the culturally
historic town of Camarthen would be left without a post office -
one of the few Welsh language post offices - while both the Neath
and Port Talbot offices are under the axe, along with the Morriston
office in Swansea.
South Wales Evening Post journalist Ian Lewis reported from the rally (Anger over plans to move Carmarthen's King Street post office) that Mayor Phil Grice told protesters that both he and the town council opposed the proposal.
"We must all act quickly and together, all political
parties and all people," he said, adding: "If the post
office closes and relocates then it really will be the death knell
for King Street and lead to the dereliction of that part of
The same article also quoted Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart describing Carmarthen Post Office, which first opened in 1901, as "a social hub.
"I know how important it is for the town and it is
something the whole town is together on," stormed the
Conservative backbencher, who was chief executive of the
Countryside Alliance before he entered Parliament in 2010.
And Gary also got his name into the paper, speaking up for the 10 Post Office workers, who, he pointed out: "Provide a public service which is at the heart of the community.
"What if a retailer takes over the post office service and
then folds?" he asked, warning: "The town is left without
a single post office service."
Gary is meeting Neath MP Peter Hain to further co-ordinate
protests across south Wales and meetings are also planned with Port
"We're also opposing the franchising plans in north Wales," Gary continued, adding that communities in Denbighshire and Flintshire will see a downgrading of services, with Crown offices in Rhyl and Holywell on the franchise list, while residents of Angelsey are set to lose two offices - at the port of Holyhead and the county town of Llangefni.
Changes to post offices in Holyhead criticised in The Holyhead
and Anglesey Mail reported that members of Holyhead Town Council
have sharply criticised the proposals, quoting concerns from local
councillor Trefor Lloyd Hughes, who is reported as describing the
changes as "shameful" and adding: "I'm really
worried about this, it makes no sense at all what's being
proposed, people are just being ignored."
CWU South East Region secretary Paul Carpenter and other union representatives and members of the South East No. 3 Branch joined forces with Save our Post Office campaigners in Hastings last week, where they received a "very warm reception from people, despite the freezing cold weather" in the south coast town.
After a hard day's work on the campaign stall outside the
post office, Paul said: "Our campaign to keep Hastings Post
Office open has been very well received and supported by the
community, who oppose the closure.
"In just a few days we received over 900 signatures for saving this Crown Office. Hastings is against this closure and CWU is working hard with the community to try to ensure this post office stays open."
Local campaigners in Sussex, Kent, Oxfordshire, West Midlands
and elsewhere have been out and about on high streets winning
public support for their efforts to save postal services.
Town and district councillors, MPs of all parties, small
businesses, customers and members of the CWU have joined together
to fight for their towns and in defence of their post offices.
Plans to franchise Witney Post Office in Oxfordshire have also
provoked controversy, an online poll by the
Oxford Times reporting 82 per cent opposition to the plan,
while in Willenhall, West Midlands, more than 1,000 signatures have
been gathered from worried residents determined to keep their Crown
And efforts to save Crown Offices in Whitstable - where residents face the double blow of losing their delivery office too - and Hastings are gathering momentum.