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Customers come out in force to prevent Harold Hill Post Office becoming a ‘second class service’

PUBLISHED: 11:49 07 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:49 07 December 2016

Robert Jones (second from right) and those supporting the petition in Farnham Road on Saturday.

Robert Jones (second from right) and those supporting the petition in Farnham Road on Saturday.

Archant

Around 1,000 signatures have been gathered from concerned customers in a bid to stop a busy post office becoming a franchised branch.

It comes after the Post Office confirmed it was considering retailer options for Harold Hill’s branch in Farnham Road last month.

Postal workers and union representatives headed to Farnham Road on Saturday and managed to gather 600 signatures.

Communications Workers Union area representative for the Post Office Robert Jones believes another 400 were collected on Monday via their postcard campaign which is gathering pace.

He said: “The support for the postcard campaign has been phenomenal.

“Residents are clear they don’t want a franchised branch and a second class service in their area.

“People told us about how the post office is the only thing that keeps the local businesses running and provides vital services on how to pay bills and get professional advice on a full range of postal services which a franchised branch is not able to offer.”

The majority of branches across the country are run on an agency basis with retailers, with current directly-run stores looking for similar arrangements so they are sustainable in the future.

The Post Office advertised in the summer for businesses in the area to register an interest in working with them.

A spokeswoman for the Post Office told the Recorder last month how franchised branches “typically offer the same services for customers as before” and “often longer operational hours”.

Despite the lure of longer opening hours, Mr Jones believes any change in services will have an adverse affect on the area.

“I think there will also be a dramatic impact on shops in Hildene too which is being overlooked,” he said.

“People come from far and wide to use the post office because of its services and easy access.

“On Saturday, we had signatures from Upminster, Stapleford Abbotts and even Billericay so shops will feel the affect of any franchise.”

People can sign up to the petition until 5pm on Friday with postcards in The Diner, Barnardo’s, The Flowergirl Florist and both Saint Francis Hospice shops in the Hilldene shopping area.

Mr Jones is planning on delivering the postcards to Margot James, minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility later this month.

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