Southwark Council has committed to help find franchise partners for two Post Offices that could face closure.
At a gathering of councillors on March 22, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory members backed a motion that Southwark will advertise for businesses to partner up with branches in Blackfriars Road and Walworth Road.
Councillor Jamille Mohammed (Lane ward) who brought the motion with Cllr Eleanor Kerslake (Newington ward) said he felt “particularly concerned” for elderly and vulnerable customers.
“According to a government survey, 87 per cent of over-65 use the Post Office for pension services and other social benefits, and 66 per cent of over-65s use [them] for personal banking, insurance, and foreign currency,” Cllr Mohammed said.
David Noakes, Lib Dem councillor for Cathedrals ward, said: “[We] know how well-used the Post Offices on Blackfriars and Walworth Roads are. They must remain open for the benefits they bring to residents and the local economy.”
The Post Office announced in January that a further 37 Crown Post offices will be lost across England. Among the 37 was a branch in New Cross branch that is used by Peckham residents, who had already lost the Rye Lane Crown Post Office last summer.
Peckham High Street’s branch could also face disruption, as plans have been submitted to build a Travelodge hotel on its premises.
Mole Meade, Communications Workers Union representative, told the News: “It’s right and proper that councils or all persuasion are signing up to this.”
Mole, from Peckham, said the Blackfriars branch will be significantly downgraded if it becomes a franchisee.
“Some of us can get online to access services, but many of us can’t, and would rather talk to a human being rather than deal with some of the most convoluted sites you have ever seen. Walworth Road is the only branch in Southwark that provides border agency work. The next closest places will be in Dartford and Croydon.
“There are 170 transactions available from a Crown Post Office. You don’t replace that overnight. We are grateful to Southwark for taking this position and for the cross-party support.