Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/491/2497
Defend the postal service
Stoke: Anger at postal privatisation
ON 4 June the fight to save Hanley post office was taken into WH Smith in the Potteries Shopping Centre, Stoke-on-Trent. Organised by North Staffs Pensioners Convention, more than 100 people marched to the store, many holding Stoke Socialist Party posters calling for a boycott of WH Smith.
Protesters were angry that Hanley post office, which has provided a public service for over 100 years, is to be moved to WH Smith so the store can increase its profits - £58 million pre-tax profits already announced this year.
Outside the post office, Andy Day of the Pensioners Convention told demonstrators: "This is the REAL post office, now we're going to march to the PRETEND post office at WH Smith".
At Potteries Shopping Centre the centre manager, Paul Lancaster, flanked by security guards, warned us of the safety dangers of 100 people entering the centre at the same time. "You will have to enter in small groups", he said.
I shouted to him, "will you tell the thousands that enter the shopping centre every Saturday the same thing?"
Outside WH Smith we again met Paul Lancaster, security guards and Community Police officers! Mr Lancaster said we'd only be let in ten at a time to prevent safety problems inside the store.
But WH Smith says it can deal with the extra 1,400 customers who use Hanley post office every day!
"We'll probably have to make appointments to get served in WH Smith in future", someone shouted.
Andy Day thanked Mr Lancaster for "proving our point better than we could ever have done ourselves".
The stressed-out manager of WH Smith could not tell us how many serving positions they planned to provide for post office customers.
Post office leaflets told customers that "eleven serving positions" would be available. "It hasn't yet been decided", she said. So, the post office claim on their leaflet is not true.
This leaflet also says: "The decision to transfer a post office branch to a franchise partner is a commercial decision to be taken solely by Post Office Ltd and is, therefore, not subject to public debate or consent".
"A commercial decision" means Hanley post office is to close to save money for Post Office Ltd's fat cat bosses and to let WH Smith increase their profits.
Customers will gain nothing and lose a lot. Neither the post office nor WH Smith are really interested in what ordinary working people have to say. Their publicity campaigns are a sham!
But our protest showed that these fat cats' arrogance will not be tolerated in Stoke. People are incensed at the threat to Hanley post office and the fight to save it will increase in the months ahead.
Until this unwanted transfer of post office services is stopped, more and more people in the city will never again shop at WH Smith.
Go to www.stokesocialistparty.org.uk to sign the on-line petition, download copies of the petition and poster/leaflet and join Stoke Socialist Party!
Over 5,000 people have signed the Stoke Socialist Party petition calling for:
- No to job losses, cuts and post office closures.
- End private sector leeching off our postal services.
In The Socialist 14 June 2007:
Unison national conference
What we think
Socialist Party NHS campaign
War and terrorism
G8 Summit protests
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis