Call for Haywards Heath post office plans to be rejected

Post Office services are currently being offered at the empty Co-op unit in South Road, Haywards Heath. Picture: Google Street View
Post Office services are currently being offered at the empty Co-op unit in South Road, Haywards Heath. Picture: Google Street View

Plans to move the Haywards Heath post office from its temporary home in the old Co-op building to the nearby WHSmith have been criticised by Labour councillors.

West Sussex County Council has been called on to reject the plans and to raise concerns with the government about what Labour members have called the ‘apparent managed decline’ of the post office network.

The branch at the old Co-op building in South Road is among 74 post offices earmarked for closure, with the services due to be moved to their respective branches of WHSmith.

Now Labour councillors have warned that these latest moves, which are due to take place in 2019 as part of a franchise agreement, could prove to be ‘the tipping point for the viability of the entire post office network’.

Sue Mullins (Lab, Northgate & West Green) has tabled a notice of motion, to be heard at a meeting of the full council at 10.30am on December 14, at County Hall, Chichester.

The motion stated: “These privatisations are financed using millions of pounds of public money, despite the fact that the public has never endorsed the closures, indeed they have only ever protested against them.

“Indeed, despite considerable campaigning over recent years with huge local public support - frequently with tens of thousands of local residents’ signing petitions - the crown post offices in Chichester, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Horsham, Shoreham-by-Sea and Haywards Heath were all closed despite the overwhelming will of the public that they remain open.”

The motion also asked county council leader Mrs Goldsmith to join the ongoing national campaign to raise awareness of the value of the Post Office.

The campaign saw members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) hold protests outside branches all across the country on Saturday (December 1), including Crawley.

The union announced on social media that an estimated 75,000 signatures had been collected.

A similar notice of motion will be tabled at a Crawley Borough Council meeting on December 12.

Roger Gale, Post Office network and sales director, said: “We have worked with WHSmith successfully for more than a decade and our partnership with them helps to secure our services on high streets for years to come.

"We’re continuing to respond to unprecedented change on high streets and in consumer trends.

“By adapting to the needs of customers we’re making sure Post Offices will matter even more tomorrow than they do today, with services available when and where people want them, in convenient locations and open for longer hours, including Sundays.”

The Crawley council meeting will be held at the Town Hall, starting at 7.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend both meetings.

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