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Threats to boycott WH Smith over Post Office

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THE CAMPAIGNERS who are pushing to save Aberystwyth’s post office building are now threatening to boycott the town’s WH Smith branch.

According to campaigners, the firm is most likely to accept the franchise to become the new post office.

The Save Aberystwyth Post Office Campaign is calling on Post Office Ltd top brass to change its mind on closing the current post office on Great Darkgate Street.

The proposals are part of the Post Office’s UK wide program to modernise post office access in a climate of falling visitor numbers at Crown post offices. The move, according to the Post Office is a drive to bring the firm into profitability.

SAPOC has now written to the management of WH Smith, Spar, Tesco and Co-op with threats to ‘disrupt’ their operations ‘until they make a public commitment not to be a Post Office Limited franchise partner in the town.’

Tesco and Co-op has ruled out taking the franchise over in Aberystwyth, both saying that they have no plans to operate Post Office counters in the area, despite doing so successfully elsewhere in the UK.

A spokesperson for the campaign, Ms Jones, said: “Local people feel extremely strongly about this issue.”

The spokesperson added: “I’m pleased that the First Minister agreed with me that it would be a great loss if Aberystwyth were to see its Post Office downgraded and moved from its current location. The strength of feeling at the public meeting in the Morlan Centre was remarkable. People in the Aberystwyth area clearly won’t just accept this.”

Nationally the Communication Workers Union claims bosses at the company want to force a cost-cutting exercise, including the closure of Aberystwyth Post Office, through by the end of 2017/18 to net £10 million in profits.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Deputy general secretary Terry Pullingerm, said: “Tragically, this is yet another horrendous example of broken promises, irresponsible government and chronic mismanagement by the Post Office.

“The Post Office should never have been split from Royal Mail – natural synergies and public services have been sacrificed for greed and profit.”

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey added: “This is devastating news for our members. It is death by a thousand cuts.

“The proposals disregard the wealth of expertise, experience and sense of pride in public duty which is shared by Crown post office employees.”

According to the CWU three branches – one in Barry, South Wales and two Northern Irish stores in Antrim and Shaftesbury Square, Belfast – are set to shut outright.

The rest of the under-fire branches will go out to tender for 28 days, after which the franchise offers will be reviewed and a public consultation will take place.

In a statement the Post Office admitted it is now breaking even, but insisted the branches on the list are not sustainable for various reasons.

Roger Gale, Post Office’s General Manager of the Crown network, told The Ceredigion Herald: “In some locations, directly-run Crown Post Office branches work well but in others there are alternatives, such as franchising, which can work better for the business and its customers, not just in terms of access to Post Office services but also in relation to long term viability.

“We need to continue to make changes to strengthen the Crown network and we have today announced that we are seeking suitable potential retail partners to work with us on providing franchised services for 39 branches and we are proposing to close three branches in areas where it is no longer viable to keep a Crown branch.”

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Dayne Stone

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