Example Email Correspondence
Dear Giles Watling MP
I am writing as one of your constituents to ask ahead, 60% of the Crown Network that existed in 2013 will be gone, following years of incremental privatisations.
Research shows that franchising our Crown post offices to WHSmith results in longer queuing time, sub-standard service, reduced services, inferior advice given on products, and that you act to stop the ‘franchising’ of 74 Crown post offices to WHSmith. If these go poor disabled access. In addition to this, local economies and lives are hit by quality jobs being replaced with low pay insecure work, and high streets are often decimated by the closing of Crown offices in prime sites that once provided custom in the area.
There is no public consultation on whether the privatisation should go ahead, but only on what the resulting franchised service might look like. Invariably, the public has been vehemently opposed to these franchises, and yet the privatisation is bankrolled using public money. In 2014/15, £13 million was paid in compensation agreements alone to get rid of experienced Post Office staff. The Communications Workers Unions (CWU), which represents many of the workers but was not engaged by the Post Office at all prior to the announcement, says around 800 staff will be affected by this round of franchising and it will cost at least £30 million in compensation payments.
Giving our profit-making Crown offices to a failing retailer, whose business model is based on low wage part-time employment, and future is reported to be in jeopardy, can only be seen as sacrificing our post office network to prop up WHSmith.
I would be grateful if you would write on my behalf to the Minister for the Post Office, Kelly Tolhurst MP, urging a halt to this privatisation, and asking what oversight and power the Government maintains over our public money given to Post Office Ltd, and how much of our money is earmarked to pay staff to leave, so WH Smith can replace them with minimum wage roles. I would also like to know why the decision about whether these assets should be privatised, has been denied to us, the public, as the rightful owners of these post offices.
Please let me know if you support the work to save our crown post office network, and if you will table questions in Parliament to encourage the retention of our Crown offices. You can also show your support on social media, using #SaveOurPostOffice to promote the petition that is based at www.saveourpostoffice.co.uk.
I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing the response from the Minister.
Thank you for contacting me about the Post Office network.
I know that Post Office branches are relied upon by communities the length and breadth of the country. They serve a distinct social purpose and are a valuable social economic asset for our communities and businesses, forming a cornerstone of British society. I can assure you that protecting the Post Office remains a priority for the Government. Nearly £2 billion has been invested since 2010 to maintain, modernise and protect the network including the Crown branches which account for around 300 branches run directly by Post Office.
The day-to-day management of the network and getting the right branches in the right locations is an operational matter for Post Office. However, it is worth noting that the majority of plans to franchise some of the Crown branches will not lead to the loss of the post office, just its re-location to a viable business partner. This is an approach the Post Office has been following since 2012, a mix of investment in Crowns and franchising those that are better provided from a partner business. This has helped shift the Crown branch estate from making an annual £50 million loss to breaking even now.
While the Post Office has recently announced a plan to relocate 40 post offices in WHSmith stores, I understand that the overall number of Post Offices will not be reduced. I am assured that WHSmith will also reach a franchise agreement for the 33 post offices that are already in its stores, so the total number of post offices operated by WHSmith in its stores is planned to rise. I have also been assured by Mark Gibson, External Affairs Manager at the Post Office, that all relocated stores will be adapted and accessible for all customers. There will also be a six week public consultation on the relocation, so the Post Office can collate and respond to your concerns – I expect this to take place in the New Year.
It is also worth noting that there are now more than 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK, and the network is at its most stable for decades. More than 4,300 branches are now open on Sundays and I welcome that nearly 1 million additional opening hours are to be added to the network every month.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.