Seeing red: protesters outside the Finsbury park branch. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Residents and businesses in Finsbury Park clubbed together on Saturday to rail against the potential loss of their local Crown Post Office.

The mail service announced last year that it was interested in franchising the state-run Post Office at 290 Seven Sisters Road.

Hackney North MP Diane Abbott joined demonstrators outside the branch, which she described as an “important local hub”.

If franchise plans go ahead, a private company would run the Post Office through its own shop, which could see the location move and put jobs, as well as some of its facilities, at risk.

It currently provides bank account services, currency exchange, travel insurance, passport checking, National Express tickets and more. It also sells stamps.

Local resident Susanne Bergmann said: “I use this Post Office regularly, and if I can’t use it any more I will have to go to Holloway Road or further along, and it would really affect me.

“Lots of people use this Post Office – it’s always full. I don’t know what people will do if they cannot use it any more.”

Her feelings were echoed by another customer, Catherine Shakespeare Lane, who said: “I use it a lot. It would be a tragedy if this place were to close. They are lovely people, the staff in this Post Office.”

The move could also have a big impact on local businesses.

Commenting on the plans, Toni Kent from the nearby Park Pharmacy said: “It does affect the pharmacy because we go in there and post things, and we have a lot of parcels going out. If the post office leaves this area it is going to stop a lot of people coming into the area.”

Campaigners were collecting signatures for a petition calling for a halt to the proposals, and an online version has also been set up.

Special delivery: local MP Diane Abbott voiced her support. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott addressed the crowd, saying: “Local Crown Offices are not just businesses, they are hubs for the local community. If we lose these Crown Offices we are going to lose an important local hub, an important local service, and jobs for local people will be in danger.”

A Post Office spokesperson confirmed it was looking for “suitable retail partners” for the Finsbury Park branch, adding: “Most of our branches are already run on an agency or franchising basis and, for some of our directly managed branches, such as Finsbury Park, we need to look at such arrangements. This will ensure that our branches are sustainable into the future.”

The representative revealed that “no detailed plans” are in place for 290 Seven Sisters Road, and that the Post Office would hold a six-week public consultation before a final decision is made.

They continued: “It’s important to underline that we are committed to keeping our services on high streets and at the heart of communities and our plans for the future are centred on doing so.”

You can find the online petition, Save the Vital Services of Finsbury Park Post Office, here.

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