MP's fight to keep Wigan post office ramps up

The Post Office is 134 years old
The Post Office is 134 years old

Wigan’s MP has been stepping up her efforts to combat the threat to the town centre’s main post office.

Lisa Nandy spoke in the national press and Westminster. about the consultation on plans to close the 134-year-old Wallgate building and move postal services to WH Smith.

Ms Nandy pledged to work with trade unions to fight for the future of the flagship town centre building when it was revealed last autumn that Wigan’s was one of 74 crown post offices earmarked for drastic changes.

In a recent Westminster Hall debate and in a column for a leading news website she spoke of the devastating impact the increasing losses of much-loved institutions were having on towns such as Wigan.

She also accused the Post Office of not consulting properly or listening to staff, telling her fellow parliamentarians she had actually been ordered to leave the Wallgate building when she tried to discuss the franchising with employees.

Ms Nandy told the debate: “I was quite horrified when I went down to my crown post office to talk to staff with an area representative who had notified management in advance.

“An area manager was sent to Wigan to block me at the door. We were chucked out of the building and for some time I stood outside on the street talking to staff about their concerns and fears in the freezing cold.

“Staff who had been keen to talk later e-mailed me to explain they had been put under significant pressure not to come outside.

“Why is a public service trying to intimidate its own staff? It is more concerned about appearances than the rights of its own workforce.”

The Westminster debate heard 60 per cent of the network has been cut in five years, which Ms Nandy described as “a staggering loss”.

Ms Nandy has also heavily criticised the Government, saying prime minister Theresa May has herself in the past campaigned energetically against the loss of her local post offices.

She said: “People have come to believe over the recent years that there is a deliberate strategy to run down our postal service to the point where it is no longer viable or sustainable.

“That is a shameful thing for a government to preside over.

“Our towns, our communities and the staff deserve so much better.”

Ms Nandy and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have already promised to strongly oppose the shift of Wigan’s post office counter and services to the town’s WH Smith store.

Council leader Coun David Molyneux also said he wanted to work with the Post Office as he was deeply concerned about such a landmark town centre building potentially lying empty.

Smaller post offices in the borough have fared little better recently, with the services on St James’ Road in Orrell and Upholland Road in Billinge shutting late last year and the buildings being put to other uses.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has raised the matter, saying it was unacceptable residents in those communities did not have a postal counter within walking distance.