Newhaven Crown Post Office

Post Office Ltd announced a public consultation in April 2017 regarding their proposal to move Newhaven Post Office to new premises at 1-2 Newhaven Square.  The move would mean that the post office was no longer a Crown Post Office (run directly by Post Office Ltd), but would instead by run by Mr Selva Muttiah.

To read the original consultation letter sent by Post Office Ltd, please click here 

The proposal was discussed by the town council’s Planning & Development Committee on 9th May 2017.  You can read the minutes of this meeting by clicking on Council Meetings in the menu bar above and then choosing Meetings diary and documents from the drop down menu.  The Committee agreed to send the following response to the consultation:

Newhaven Town Council is disappointed that the decision has been made to turn the existing Crown Post Office in the town, which is owned and managed directly by Post Office Limited, into a franchised Main Post Office run by a private businessman.  The population of Newhaven is increasing considerably in the short to medium term, which would add to the sustainability of a Crown Post Office.

The Town Council is particularly concerned about the possibility of the loss of the Cash Machine provided by the current Crown Post Office.  The Post Office is the only banking service in the town and this cash machine is essential for local people.  The Town Council requests that strenuous efforts are made by all parties concerned to ensure that a cash machine can be provided at the new premises.

The Town Council is also concerned at the loss of the Biometric Enrolment Service and asked the Clerk to enquire about the numbers of people using this service in Newhaven.

The Town Council is concerned that the range of services available could be reduced during the period of the franchise and requests that conditions be included in the contract preventing this from happening.

In general, the Town Council felt that the premises chosen for the franchised Main Post Office are in a location that is easy to get to and that the accessibility to the building will be good.

The issue has been further discussed at a number of subsequent town council Planning & Development Committee meetings, the minutes of which can also be accessed by clicking on Council Meetings in the menu bar above.  Local campaigner, Miss Jennifer Jones, has campaigned vigorously against the proposal and has attended many of the meetings to keep the town council up to date with her campaign.

Following these discussions, a further town council objection to the proposal, raising additional issues was sent  on 15th June 2017.  This read:

Further to the objections made by Newhaven Town Council (identified above) regarding the closure of the Crown Post Office in Newhaven’s Town Centre, I would like to add that local residents have raised additional grave concerns about the closure of this much valued facility in this port town.  These objections include:

  • If the franchisee withdraws from the contract then Newhaven will be left without a post office.  This is even more critical in Newhaven which is home to a great number of businesses and stands to absorb a great deal more with the recent designation of an Enterprise Zone.  Newhaven is indeed the ‘engine room’ of the local economy and much wider area.
  • Concern about the training of suitable staff who will be performing the important role of delivering post office services and loss of more private set up for sensitive conversations between staff and public regarding money.
  • Continued concern about the loss of biometric services for this growing port town.

 

Post Office Ltd refused the Clerk’s original request for the numbers of people using the Biometric Enrolment service, saying:

With regards to your query about how many people use the Biometric Enrolment Service, I am not at liberty to share precise details with you as this is Home Office data and not something that we can make public. However, I can confirm that this is one of our low usage branches for this service with considerably less than average use. As the Biometric Enrolment service is only available in a select number of branches it draws its customers from a wider area than other more readily available services. It is our intention to keep the Biometric Enrolment Service in the region and the final decision as to where to locate the service will be part of our discussions with the Home Office to understand from where the future demand for this service is likely to come.

However, a Post Office employee told local campaigner, Miss Jennifer Jones that the town council could obtain the figures by making a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office and accordingly this was done.  Following the receipt of the figures, an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council was held on 15th August 2017.  The minutes from this meeting can again be read by clicking on the Council Minutes tab in the menu bar above.  At the meeting Miss Jennifer Jones presented the council with three pieces of correspondence, which can be read by clicking herehere and here

Following the Extraordinary Council meeting, letters were sent to the Government Minister, Margot James MP click here to read, to Maria Caulfield MP click here to read and emails sent to the Leaders of Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council click here to read

Post Office Ltd announced on 20th September 2017 that it had decided that the move would go ahead as proposed.  Their letter explaining the decision can be read here