Hove’s Labour MP condemned the ‘sham consultation’ and the closing down of the Western Road Post Office during has a debate in Parliament this week about franchises.
Post Office bosses claimed that the number of customers using this post office had declined and said the branch was no longer “commercially sustainable”. After a public consultation over its viability, the Western Road Post Office was closed down in spite of public protests. Mr Kyle handed a petition with 5,400 names to the post office with community activists before the Western Road branch was closed in February 2016.
Only a year or two later, the Post Office has now installed a new branch in the Western Road newsagent, just feet away from the location of the closed crown post office.
This has raised questions over the sincerity of the public consultation as well as the Post Office’s stated reasons that the original crown office was “commercially unviable.”
Mr Kyle has taken a keen interest in post offices and other public services for many years. He chaired a public meeting about the Western Road Post Office closure back in the summer of 2015 and has followed all subsequent developments closely since then.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate about franchising last Thursday 10 January, Mr Kyle said: “I have absolutely no doubt that I was misled, that the community I represent was misled and—worst of all—that the customers who used and depended on that post office were misled and the staff who had given a career and indeed a lifetime in work to that western road post office branch were misled.
“The western road post office staff’s jobs disappeared and the jobs that have been created in their place have no pension liability and no guarantee that they would have the standards that people who work long-term in the Post Office can expect. And those workers were no longer part of the Post Office family.
“We have a Prime Minister who stood on the steps of Downing Street and said she was going to maintain those sorts of rights and tackle injustices.
“The Post Office is one of her companies; it is an organisation that she runs. However, she has allowed it to dwindle, to be stripped of assets and to be taken away from our high streets, and replaced with something that has less value, makes less of a contribution to our communities, and that offers less stability and value in the workplace to the people who work for it.”
Mr Kyle then called on the Business Minister responsible for postal affairs, Kelly Tolhurst MP, to intervene:
“I say to the Minister directly that I understand that she has said that it is not her job to meddle with the running of the Post Office.
“However, in times such as this, I and my community expect her to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in because if branches are being taken from our high streets, and MPs and our communities are being misled, we are their elected officials. She is speaking on behalf of the Government and we expect her to act.”
This article was first published on Brighton and Hove News website.