Raising The Profile Of CWU's Crown Office Campaigns During
The General Election
Writing to CWU Branches with Postal members, Andy Furey Assistant Secretary (P) reports on the Union's aim to raise the profile during the General Election 2017 campaign of the state of the nations Post Offices:
As a consequence of the Post Office’s ongoing attack on the Crown Office Network and our members’ jobs, motion no. 29 by the Postal Executive was carried unanimously at our Postal Conference.
The policy integral to motion 29 confirmed our objectives with regards to organising vigorous community campaigns with the aim of deterring potential franchise partners.
The debate surrounding the motion highlighted to our Branches, Regional Secretaries and Representatives, the significant opportunities to defend Crown Offices during the time critical period in the lead up to the General Election on Thursday 8th June. The motion is attached to this LTB for your information.
I would like to place on record my thanks to all Representatives and retired members who have thus far been involved in community campaigning; your efforts are really appreciated.
In line with motion 29, all Branches in conjunction with the Regional Secretaries and Post Office IR Reps, are encouraged to immediately instigate campaigns (where there is not currently one up and running).
With the General Election only 4 weeks away, we must do everything possible to make the privatisation of Crown Offices (franchising) an election issue amongst all mainstream candidates.
This is a crucial period of time where local community campaigns can make a real difference – politicians of all political persuasions will wish to avoid being seen to disagree publicly with influential groups of constituents.
Clearly we have lots of powerful examples of high levels of interest from the local community in defending quality jobs and Crown Office services and this is something we can promote in order to get support from local candidates.
We would also encourage Branches to organise public meetings during the election period, with invitations being extended to all mainstream candidates with the aim of getting them to publicly support our campaign. Furthermore, Branches may wish to seek photo opportunities with parliamentary candidates via a meet and greet session with customers outside the Crown Offices that are threatened with privatisation.
Three public meetings were held last week:
Leigh on Sea Romford Amal. Wednesday 10th May
Diss Eastern No 4. Thursday 11th May
Ulverston North Lancs & Cumbria Amal. Friday 12th May
In addition, a public meeting was held in Rotherham (South Yorkshire & District Amal) week of 1st May which was supported by Sarah Champion, Labour MP (prior to purdah). I would like to thank the associated Representatives and Branch Secretaries for organising these public meetings.
Campaign packs which provide Branches with guidance and direction in respect of local community campaigning are available by contacting Lea Sheridan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaflets, posters and campaign materials are also available from the department by contacting Lea (please give as much notice as possible due to design and printing).
House of Commons Backbench Debate
As referenced during the debate on motion 29 at Conference, a backbench debate on “Post Office Closures” took place in the House of Commons on Tuesday 25th April. A good number of MPs were in attendance with speakers from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. There was significant cross-party criticism of the Post Office’s closure programme, with 17 speakers overall.
The Minister, Margot James, came under fire from all directions, particularly from Labour MPs; however a number of Conservative MPs also voiced their concerns. The following comments (taken from Hansard) are examples of positive support from Conservative MPs who have Crowns on the franchise list in their constituencies. This demonstrates that whilst the Government has fully supported the Post Office and its franchise programme, that nonetheless some MPs are willing to criticise the Post Office and its plans.
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
“...we were promised that the Crown post offices were absolutely sacrosanct and would remain the main flagship of the Post Office on the high street..... Crown post offices are very important parts of the local community. Local businesses, including retail and other small businesses, rely on them heavily...”
“Closing down flagship branches, getting rid of experienced staff and putting counters into the back of a WH Smith store or a Bargain Booze outlet is surely not a plan for greater innovation, which I think is what our constituents want to see.”
Iain Duncan-Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
“Nearly eight years ago in my community we lost a sub-post office in the high street. We were told, “Don’t worry, the Crown post office will be able to take all that business”, and now we find that that post office is about to close as well, leaving us with no postal service at all in the area. I, the community and the unions are absolutely adamant that that is the wrong way to go. The Post Office must think again....”
Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con)
“Diss could and should be a flagship example of the regeneration of our market towns, with the successful Crown post office at its heart.”
“...there are certain Crown post offices where the proposals are wholly unsuitable. We need and deserve something better.”
Government Consultation – Post Office Network
The BEIS consultation on the Post Office Network closed on 21st December 2016. Despite over four months elapsing since the closing date, disappointingly, following the announcement of the General Election and the dissolution of parliament, the response to the consultation will now not be published until a new Government has been formed.