I don't want to queue in the street

Here is my most recent column from the Muswell Hill Flyer and the Highgate Handbook:

I declare an interest. I am not enjoying having to go to the sub-post office on Archway Road instead of the one that closed in Highgate Village. I expect I am not alone in this! It may be that there are no queues there – but certainly on each and every occasion I have been – there has been a long queue (often into the street).

Unforgivably – Labour closed five of Hornsey & Wood Green’s sub-post offices – despite huge campaigns by local people, local LibDems and myself – and the fantastic support of local celebrities like Victoria Wood.

Labour stopped the closure program when they realised the political cost that they would pay. Five thousand post offices closed – leaving their communities bereft. That loss is still being felt keenly by those communities – including our own! Sadly the political realisation that Labour was losing votes over the closures came too late to save our much beloved local post office.

Enter the Coalition last May. The Coalition government’s plans for the Post Office are excellent – and will save the Post Office and Royal Mail. Hurrah! Indeed – there are exciting plans afoot for new sorts of arrangements for post offices – working with local councils and others.

In the new model – the Coalition wants to see the Post Office expand its financial services and become a real front office for local and Government business. There are a lot of pilot projects on the table and lots of new things being developed. The Coalition believes that the Post Office could do more of the verifying of documents for the pension service, offer an end- to-end Criminal Records Bureau application service. Maybe it could support JobCentre Plus and the work on National Insurance application processes. All good stuff!

But I want a sub-post office to re-open in Highgate Village (and in other locations where the need is evident following the loss of a local facility) and was wondering if anyone else felt the same? By the time you read this I will have met with the regional Head of the Post Office to ask him to consider opening another sub-post office in Highgate Village.

I am sure the new ‘model’ for local post offices will be splendid – but where we have lost a treasured local community service – all we really want is what we had – back!

So I am meeting Mr Richard Barker – he who is Head of our region Post Officewise – to get an early bid in for a future service in Highgate Village. It is probably on the over-optimistic side to think this meeting will produce a new sub-post office – but hey – I am an optimist. And more to the point perhaps – I want to start campaigning now – so that when perhaps a new ‘post-office local’ is developed – we are first in line to pilot it here in Highgate and Muswell Hill. (Alexandra sub-post office was also closed by Labour – leaving many, many residents there with a bus journey to reach the main post office in Muswell Hill).

So – as I said – I declare an interest because I miss my local post office. If you do too – then please let me know by emailing at me featherstonel@parliament.uk or write to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.

Post the meeting – which was also about the the overlong queues at Wood Green, Muswell Hill and Crouch End – these main post offices will now to have action taken to reduce wait times. As for ‘post office local’ – it is still a bit distant horizon and gleam in Post Office eye rather than imminent reality – but I am convinced that we will get back local services in the future in a new form under the new arrangements.

0 thoughts on “I don't want to queue in the street

  1. Lynne

    I’ve raised this with you before, and to be honest you’ve not really responded in any depth. The post office receives a huge subsidy every year – £180m according to this article:


    How can it be that you are worried about youth services closing, and older-persons care services stopping, but also support throwing away £180m a year to subsidise the Post Office. Closing less-used branches is the right thing to do – do you honestly believe we should be throwing even more money away at the Post Office?

  2. If you wanted to reopen the post offices all you have to do is find the subsidy – that was why they were closed after all. So shut up whinging and act.

  3. Glad to hear the queues will be getting shorter in Wood Green Post Office. Whenever I go down there in my lunch hour (only time I can usually get to it) there is often an insane queue. Maybe it’s because half the people in there had their sub-Post Office closed?

    Also hope the pilot schemes for other services at Post Offices go well – maybe then they won’t need so much subsidy to be viable, since money isn’t exactly growing on trees at the moment.

  4. This is nonsense, you’re in government – open them then (you could get some of the huge banks to pay a little bit more than 1% tax on multi-billion pound profits in order to cover costs)!

    As for saving Royal Mail, well I was under the impression that you were selling it to TNT who don’t have that good a record delivering their own post in the Netherlands. What’s more, you could sell it off just like our water, gas, electricity, tube maintenance, hospital cleaning, railways etc, etc and it could be a disaster just like all the other sell-offs.

    I have to say, only a fool or a politician could come up with this blog….. congratulations.

  5. I love this new schtick – complaining about all these awful cuts, when you are a member of the current government! It’s mind-bogglingly weird!

    You’re trying to blame anyone but your own government for all the bad things going on right now – the local council, the Post Office, the men from Mars, who knows, as long as it’s not the, er, government which is making the biggest cuts in the public services ever and (this is from the prime minister) wants to open the entire public service to the private sector – ie destroy the public services

    It’s the most depressing example of political opportunism ever.

  6. Why has your government not acted to restore post offices or ring-fence funding for youth, pensioner and library services if they are so important to you? The banks could have stood a little extra tax in your lousy Merlin agreement and you would have retained your popularity. This social vandalism is what your Tory administration wants. Stop blaming everybody else for it, step down and campaign honestly against the Tories as you were elected to do.

  7. And while we are are at it, where are the promised plans for economic growth that are going to enable the private sector to dig us out of the mess you are dropping us in? Are you going to blame them too when we double-dip?

  8. Lynne,

    I think you make some relevant points. The post office already provides a set of services, including the ones you note and also issuing the Freedom Pass for elderly and disabled people. However, I agree there could be scope for widening this to CRB applications and other areas.