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Privatisation making postal service worse

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The post office in Gladstone Road, Whitstable

It seems that the closure of the Gladstone Road Post Office in Whitstable is a foregone conclusion.

In a statement last week Post Office spokesman Cathal Wogan said: “When a preferred franchise partner is identified we will conduct a public consultation.”

“When” not “If”.

You should also note the sequence of events. First they intend to find the partner, and only after that will they allow us a public consultation. There will be no consultation over whether we want a franchised Post Office in the first place.

Our MP, Julian Brazier, says he has no objection to this. “What I do want is to ensure is we continue to have a good postal service in Whitstable,” he tells us.

I wonder if he’s tried Canterbury Post Office since its transfer to WH Smiths?

Anyone who has been there knows that the service is appalling, with the Post Office counter on the first floor, queues down the stairs and long waits to get served.

If that’s the model of what a future Post Office in Whitstable will look like then I say, “No thanks, Mr Brazier, we’ll keep Gladstone Road open if you don’t mind.”

Of course this is all part of the slow downgrading of the Post Office over the generations.

I have a set of CDs of films made by the GPO Film Unit in the 1930s and ‘40s. As some of you may remember, the Post Office was once renowned throughout the world as one of the innovators of documentary film making.

The films show the GPO as a thrusting, forward-thinking organisation largely responsible for the making of modern Britain.

The degradation of the institution began in 1984 with the sell-off of BT. More recently, of course, we’ve seen the privatisation of the Royal Mail and the franchising of counter services.

The trick has been to hive off the profitable parts while keeping the unprofitable parts in the public domain, degrading the whole service in the process.

If you want to know what’s wrong with the UK: there it is, in a nutshell.

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