It’s been another week of bad news for Islington’s post offices. On Tuesday, the Post Office unveiled their latest plans for closures in London. Islington is set to lose two branches on Caledonian Road to the west of the borough, plus three just over the Hackney border – Murray Grove, Blackstock Road and Wilton Way – serving the east side.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that there are two post offices on Caledonian Road. It’s a very long road; one of the branches is at Kings Cross, in the N1 postcode, the other is in Holloway N7. But both are set to close.
The Post Office’s big idea seems to be that everyone can use the main post office on Upper Street. I went over there before work, and at 8.30am on Tuesday there were already pensioners lining up in the cold, queuing for the 9.30am opening. Queuing for at least half an hour once you are inside is routine. Upper Street can barely cope at present; what will it be like when other branches close?
On Tuesday lunchtime Meral and I went over to the two branches on Caledonian Road to see for ourselves and meet some of the people affected. Old women, younger men, mums with babies, at both branches there were queues of people who rely on their local post office every day. We’d arranged to meet up with the local papers too: this is a major issue for our community.
People I spoke to find it hard to understand why the Government is backing these closures. Both these branches are surrounded by large estates and serve deprived communities, so traditional Labour voters in particular feel very angry and let down. Meanwhile Emily Thornberry, the local Labour MP who voted FOR Post Office closures a year ago says “these sub post-offices tend to be just a counter in a shop because they are likely to be located somewhere where there are other post offices nearby, so it is less of an issue than crown post offices.”
I doubt many of her constituents agree.