Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville has written to Royal Mail to protest at the closure of Brooke Road Sorting Office.
“In the best of times this proposal would be ill-judged and counter productive. For it to be made now, during a global pandemic, when local services, effective connections, communication and commerce are so important to all of us, shows a shocking disregard for the communities that Royal Mail is meant to serve,” says Mayor Glanville in a strongly-worded letter to Royal Mail CEO Stuart Simpson.
The letter says:
Dear Mr Stuart Simpson
Proposed Closure of Brooke Road Sorting Office
I am writing to you to protest in the strongest possible terms the threatened closure of the Royal Mail sorting office located at 227c Brooke Road , Clapton, London, E5 8AA.
In the best of times this proposal would be ill-judged and counter productive. For it to be made now, during a global pandemic, when local services, effective connections, communication and commerce are so important to all of us, shows a shocking disregard for the communities that Royal Mail is meant to serve.
I have only just learned that you intend to close this vital and much loved community facility on 14th October 2020, in less than two weeks’ time. I was shocked to have to learn about this on social media and via active residents, and it is clear that Royal Mail
have not consulted any local stakeholders, let alone the local community. This part of the borough also has many micro and small businesses who find the sorting office a lifeline.
I understand that, for collections in person, and any personal mail enquiries, local residents will thereafter be expected to travel to Leyton Collection office, at least one hour round trip by a now dwindling bus service since the withdrawal of the No. 48. A return journey to the Leyton office is just not viable for local residents of E5.
The cost of travel, as well as the time taken, during a period of reduced bus services and an expectation that we should all be endeavouring to travel less, makes this proposal seemingly completely out of touch with the wider reality of the impact of Covid-19.
The very last thing we should be doing now is encouraging unnecessary car journeys when we are all working to tackle congestion and poor air quality. It is also a much longer and more inconvenient journey for vulnerable residents whichever method they might end up using to get there and at a time when they are more reliant on these services.
Our local community is an extremely diverse one, many of whom will struggle after the closure. It is remarkable that I should have to point this out to the provider of a public service, but residents such as the elderly, disabled, people with health issues, parents
with young children in tow, and those with transport challenges, will struggle.
Similarly, the expectation that residents can easily engage with your services online to resolve delivery issues is, I am afraid, not borne out in practice. As the Council has reshaped its own service delivery model in recent months, the harsh ‘digital divide’ in Hackney has become clear and we have protected access. Many just do not have easy or consistent access to web enabled services.
I am sure that you will argue that, because a parcel can be left with a neighbour or have its delivery rescheduled, our local community can manage without their local delivery office, but there are many people for whom those options simply do not work.
I know there is now a local petition against the closure already circulating and created by local people, and which I am pleased to have just signed. It has reached over 1,000 people in less than 24 hours:
Residents and myself are also concerned about the staff who work at Brooke Road and have served the local community so well and hold a wealth of local knowledge.
Therefore, I respectfully ask that you reconsider this damaging proposal. At the very least, I must insist that your plans are placed in abeyance until at least six months’ time, in order that proper community consultation can take place, and local representatives of your customers, who depend so much on this vital local service, can make their voices heard.
My experience with previous service changes around access to Post Offices was that engagement is vital, and following that more detailed work, we did see valuable local Hackney services protected because Royal Mail listened.
I look forward to hearing from you and would value a meeting to discuss this further.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on Royal Mail to ditch its plans to shut its sorting office in Upper Clapton.
Cllr Michael Desmond told the Gazette: “This is both commercial folly – given the upsurge in parcel deliveries and online shopping during the pandemic – and morally indefensible.
“It will also add to congestion and pollution. I wrote to Royal Mail in March conveying the importance of the office for local people – if anything, it has become more important and been more extensively used since then.”
Cllr Michael Desmond
The petition, set up by people in the community, states: “In this new future of minimal contact and increasing digitalisation, contact with the familiar faces of people within our community has never been more important. Many people in our community will be left feeling ever more isolated if this office closes.”
“Journey cost and time spent in transit, along with reduced bus services and an expectation that we should all be endeavouring to travel less in these current times makes the closure of our local office an absolute injustice.
10 October 2020