Ossett and Pontefract post offices to close?

Two post offices in the district could close down, after plans to franchise 37 branches across the country were announced today.

The Post Office confirmed it would be “seeking partners” for the branches, including the post offices on Towngate in Ossett and on Ropergate in Pontefract.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said the changes would result in a loss of 300 staff and cut 127 financial specialist roles.

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Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU, said: “The latest round of closures is further evidence that the Post Office is in crisis and that the board of the company, backed by the government, is simply pursuing a strategy of slash and burn.”

The announcement comes just weeks after the closure of a government consultation on post office services and their accessibility.

Mr Ward said: “75,000 postcards were returned to the government signed by members of the public calling for an end to the closure and franchise programme – the Post Office and the government have completely ignored their views.”

In 2016, The Post Office announced 93 branches would be franchised. Nearly half of these have been relocated to retail stores.

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In Wakefield, the city’s former post office on providence Street closed its doors and a new post office service is now operating in WHSmith in Trinity Walk.

Roger Gale, Sales and Trade Marketing Director at The Post Office, said: “We’re committed to maintaining the Post Office’s special place on the high street and the changes we are making underpin our continued commitment to give communities in every part of the country access to essential services.

“The Post Office’s network of more than 11,600 branches is easily the largest in the UK, with 17 million customer visits a week. The vast majority of these branches are run with partners, and in the locations announced today we believe this will also be a more sustainable approach for the long term.

“With consumer habits changing, and the high cost of maintaining premises in prime high street locations, franchising helps us to keep services where our customers want and need them.

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“We will take time to identify the right partners over the coming months and all proposals will be subject to local consultation.”

The CWU vowed to step up its campaign to “fight for the future of the Post Office”.

Deputy General Secretary Postal Terry Pullinger said: “The CWU will not stand back while the Post Office cuts hundreds of jobs and is being put on a path of managed decline. If you value your Post Office then support our stand.”