In the past week, Leigh-on-Sea residents have shown their determination to save the Rectory Grove post office from being closed or downgraded. Another rally was held outside the post office on Saturday 6th May 2017, when more signatures were collected for the petition and leaflets handed out for a public meeting.
|Andy Furey, Tim Pavelin, Julian Ware-Lane, Des Heemskerk - Photo Gaz de Vere|
The public meeting was held at Leigh Community Centre on Wednesday 10th May, and the speakers described the issues we face and what action can be taken. Andy Furey (National Officer for the CWU) said: “we invited the Post Office here tonight, we said come along, come along and justify your policies, your decisions. They didn’t want to know.”
The Post Office has not been clear about what is happening and no public consultation has been announced so far. Mr Furey said he had heard about discussions to move the post office to the Premier Express shop at 99 Broadway West. “Premier, we’re told that they might be interested. Now I went into that Premier shop today, and there’s no way you could put a post office in the back of that Premier, it’s simply impossible.”
Despite earlier assertions that Sir David Amess was in favour of supporting the campaign, he failed to attend the public meeting. Although this was regretted by those present, Mr Furey was optimistic about a collaborative effort to save Leigh Post Office: “This could be an issue that could unite all of the political parties. I know we haven’t got the Tory MP here tonight, he was invited … Tomorrow night I am in Diss and I am doing another public meeting and the Tory MP Richard Bacon is going to be there … he wants to defend his Crown Post Office in Diss. That’s one Tory MP, unfortunately Sir David Amess doesn’t feel the same way.”
In his speech Julian Ware-Lane, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Southend West, said: “one of the things you can do is ask [the other parliamentary candidates] where they stand on this issue. I think we already know where Sir David stands. I’m going to tell you now I’m here to defend the post office, so I make no bones about that. You can write letters to the paper, you can sign petitions, you can tell your friends, and ask the politicians, and put the pressure on them and it’s the only way that we are going to effect any real change is by doing that.”
The other local politicians to attend the meeting were Cllr David Norman and Cllr Caroline Parker (of Leigh Town Council). Cllr Parker asked the question: “why did none of the workers in that post office not want to attend tonight, when it’s their jobs and future that is at stake?” Mr Furey replied that “many of the staff were fearful of retribution from the employer if they are seen to be actively campaigning.”
In summing up Julian said: “if there’s a potential to deliver a petition to the Council, there’s two Labour Councillors in here today … I’m sure people will be more than happy to present that, but it may also be presented elsewhere.
“If you make it known that the popular decision around here is to publicly and vociferously defend your post office then I will be amazed any politician will go against that grain.”
Videos taken at the events on 6th and 10th May can be found on YouTube: