Each December since I was first elected, I’ve got up in the very early hours of the morning one day to visit the hard-working staff at Muswell Hill Delivery Office at what is their busiest time of the year. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, and I’ve just booked in my visit for this Christmas.
But if Royal Mail goes ahead with their short-sighted plan to close Muswell Hill Delivery Office – instead of sending customers to Wood Green to collect parcels, this Christmas will be the last. The dedicated staff would separately move to the North London Delivery Centre in N19.
It’s a terrible plan that will be massively inconvenient to customers and I strongly oppose it. Over 1,000 people have already signed my petition at www.catherinewest.org.uk and shared thoughts on what it will mean to them. One said “There’s always a queue at this Post Office and the delivery office is just as busy. If I have to go to Wood Green to get undelivered mail it will cost me at least £20 per month in travelling costs, to say nothing of the time it will take.” Another told me that as a sole trader, they use special delivery on a weekly basis for work and would lose huge amounts of time if they missed a parcel. Many spoke of the additional difficulties faced by elderly, disabled people or parents with small children with long bus journeys, extra expense and bigger queues.
I’m particularly angry that Royal Mail doesn’t intend to carry out any public consultation, despite the impact this will have locally. Since the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition Government privatised Royal Mail back in 2013 there isn’t the direct control any more to challenge these decisions. Instead since 2013 there has been a relentless programme of delivery office closures across the country. Over 140 have shut their doors already as customer convenience and service quality are sacrificed for shareholder profit.
At the same time, we are seeing a mass sell-off of Post Office services. Already in my constituency Muswell Hill and Crouch End Crown Post Offices have closed down to be replaced by franchises and the same is now happening in Wood Green where the Crown Post Office will become a WH Smith franchisee. Too often that leads to good jobs being lost in place of minimum wage contracts and service quality declines. WH Smith has issued their own profit warnings so it also raises concerns about the long-term future.
As a local community, what can we do about it? You can sign my petition at www.catherinewest.org.uk or email me directly with your comments. I will then be able to use them together with the feedback from the drop-in I’m holding at the Birchwood Centre on 9 November. It’s really important Royal Mail know the strength of feeling locally, so I can make the strongest possible case when I meet with senior bosses later this month.
In Parliament, I’ve applied for a debate on the wider issues of the managed decline of these vital public services and on a practical level I’ve also contacted Haringey Council to ask if they can explore options for other locations in N10.
Muswell Hill needs a delivery office that’s local and convenient. That’s what I’ll keep fighting for.