An historic Clapton delivery office which has served the community since 1892 has been closed by Royal Mail in the face of opposition from thousands of petitioners.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville, who recently dubbed the building an “E5 icon” at a Town Hall meeting, has to date received no reply to a letter in which he pressed Royal Mail chief executive Stuart Simpson for answers on the closure.
A petition has now been signed by just over 3,000 people, with Hackney Labour activists branding the loss, which has occurred with no consultation and despite cross-party political pressure from the council, as emblematic of “why privatisation of public services does not work”.
Campaigner Susan Downing said: “There are still people as of now, and it is already closed, that never got a letter about it. There are some people who didn’t get the letter until 48 hours before it closed its doors for the last time. There are blocks of flats where no-one got them.
“Some people assumed from the letter that it was a temporary lockdown measure, because the letter just talks about a change in arrangements in which ‘there’s no need to visit the delivery office’, so there are a lot of people who will assume that it will reopen again when this lockdown ends, and they are in for a shock.
“Not only have Royal Mail not ensured that everyone has received a letter on the change in arrangements, they have neglected to mention what is actually going on.
“A transparent notice letter would have said that they would have to permanently close Brooke Road, but they left it very vague. They have been oblique at every single twist and turn. It could have stayed open for two more months to see us through this worst bit of lockdown and Christmas. They just haven’t thought this through.
“There are other options in the area and I don’t know why they didn’t choose one of them. Royal Mail and Post Office services in this area are already stretched to breaking, so closing Brooke Road Collection office and then not providing a local replacement venue is a step too far.”
Royal Mail had not responded to requests for comment on the decision at time of going to press.
In a letter to campaigners earlier in the month, the postal service admitted that the closure of the office was “disappointing”, but pointed to the deteriorating state of the building itself, as well as the increased opening hours in Leyton where services will now relocate, and the redelivery options available to customers.
It said that the “vast majority” of local postmen and woman now work out of the office in Leyton, pledged that the change would not impact delivery services in the Clapton area, and explained that no post offices in the area were able to hold items for customer collection.
In correspondence seen by the LDRS, Mayor Glanville complains to Royal Mail boss Simpson that his initial enquiries on the site’s closure had not been answered, including his complaint that resident consultation by the company had been “totally neglected”, with the letter of notice with no associated recourse for residents “hardly [to] be considered engagement”.
The borough leader went on to suggest the Stoke Newington Delivery Office on East Bank as an alternative customer service point, asking whether Royal Mail had looked across the whole borough for other options, though no response to this had been received by the time the office closed last weekend.
Glanville wrote: “While I appreciate there is an option to book a redelivery, there is no alternative to an office visit for missing parcel enquiries. At the same time, booking a redelivery slot for some of our residents, such as working households who can not guarantee when they will be home, is also not an option.
“Expecting these customers to travel to Leyton during a global health pandemic, when unnecessary and lengthy travel is discouraged, is deeply irresponsible of Royal Mail.
“At the same time, making these changes in the run up to Christmas – one of the busiest times of year for your company and local traders – surely does not make business sense. A compromise could be a moratorium on the closure until next year to allow all options to be considered and alternatives explored.
“One of the central issues remains that Leyton takes residents and businesses on a journey that is the opposite to how they access other retail, public and business services.”
Clapton residents have been advised by Royal Mail that if an item is unable to be delivered first time, they can arrange for a free redelivery on a more convenient day, including Saturday, and to a different address in E5, instead of having to travel to Leyton, or for 70p to a post office of the resident’s choice.
You can find the campaigners’ petition here