Politicians and unions have reacted with dismay to news that Wigan’s central post office could be closed and moved to the WH Smith store.
The town centre branch on Wallgate is one of 74 across the country under threat from the new proposals.
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Under the controversial franchising proposals, the building would shut and the services transferred to a counter somewhere in the retail firm’s store on Standishgate.
However, bosses are meeting a furious backlash with Wigan MP Lisa Nandy pledging to fight the plan, saying it would lead to fewer services, longer queuing times and inferior customer experience.
She promised to stand with the communications union the CWU which has also promised to battle for the post office’s future.
Ms Nandy said: “The post office is a vital institution in Wigan, well used and supported by people in this town for generations.
“This proposal would be devastating to Wigan and will lead to fewer services for customers and the loss of experienced staff.
“It also puts the future of the iconic post office building on Wallgate in doubt.
“I will therefore be working with the Communication Workers Union to strongly oppose these plans both locally and in Parliament and call on the people of Wigan to join us in saving our flagship post office.”
Carl Webb, regional secretary for the CWU, said: “We’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep it open. We’re not going to let the Post Office get away with this.
“These people have worked for the Post Office for many years. They are good public servants and they don’t want to work for WH Smith. We will fight to keep their jobs.
“Companies are not providing a public service, they just want to increase footfall in their shops. Once a post office has gone you never get that same level of service.”
Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux pledged the town hall’s support for the centre with the prospect of the 134-year-old Wallgate building becoming unused.
He said: “All town centres are currently facing significant challenges as habits change and we know that retailers need to adapt to this.
“We will work with the Post Office to see if a solution can be found allowing them to remain in their current location as we do not want to see this building lie empty.
“We remain committed to ensuring the town centre is a vibrant and prosperous place to live and visit and will offer our assistance to find any potential future uses of the building if this is not possible.”
Relocation or closure of a post office is subject to a six-week local consultation, the dates of which have yet to be announced for Wigan.
There will also have to be a 90-day TUPE consultation period for staff who would go over to WH Smith.