The Campaign Against Post Office Closures public meeting, 22 July, was a big success. Local residents and campaigners in Beeston, Leeds, came together to discuss what we can do in light of the announcement to shut all three of the proposed Post Offices earmarked for closure in August.
Manny Dominguez, Leeds Socialist Party
Everybody thought the six-week consultation period was a sham and that the Post Office bosses had already made up their minds despite the huge opposition in Leeds, to close 22 branches in the city.
Labour councillor, Adam Ogilvy, sensing that there was an underlying mood of anger towards the Labour Party, appeared very apologetic and indeed supportive of our campaign.
Knowing that his political career could be under threat in the future local elections, he voiced his opposition to what his Labour ministers were doing to the Post Office. He even supported the idea to lobby Leeds city council to bail out threatened Post Offices, but warned that it would cost £18,000 to put a Post Office in a council building.
Dave Walton representing the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) spoke against the privatisation of the Post Office and what has been happening to it since it was opened up to the free market three years ago. Post Offices’ big business competitors are being subsidised by the government, thus draining the Post Offices’ own resources. Nonetheless he still remains loyal to the Labour Party, something local residents cannot understand.
He emphasised the need to put constant pressure on Labour councillors and MPs and also announced that the CWU will be lobbying Labour Party conferences to stop further closures and privatisation.
Finally, representing Beeston pensioners, Pauline Johnston gave a moving account of how the Post Office has served as a local social centre for generations. She told the meeting that the closure would be an end of an era, leaving the local area in a more deprived position. Pensioners and those on benefits would be hit hardest with local residents having to travel further to use Post Office services.
Two ideas of protest that came from the meeting were that we lobby the council and/or march round the threatened Post Offices in Beeston carrying a symbolic coffin.