Concerns over franchising of Harpenden Post Office

The Harpenden Crown Post Office could be franchised

The Harpenden Crown Post Office could be franchised - Credit: Archant

Staff at Harpenden’s Post Office have been warned of plans to have the branch franchised, a development labelled as “devastating news” by union bosses.

The Post Office has announced plans for a further franchising programme, following on from the last round of franchises under the ‘Crown transformation programme’.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says that up to 100 Crown offices are vulnerable to closure or franchising, impacting on up to 400 jobs, via two tranches.

In the first tranche, Harpenden Crown Post Office in Station Road is among 39 Crown offices proposed to be franchised, while three more are to close.

A further 40-50 Crown post offices are to be franchised over the next two years, unless significant opportunities can be found to make them profitable, which is likely to impact on hundreds of jobs.

Uncertainty over the future of Harpenden’s Post Office has raised concern among locals.

Judy Hamblin, of Overstone Road, said she was ‘alarmed’ as she feared the building might be sold and, “I think it would be very sad to lose such a valuable asset.”

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She has contacted the Post Office and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley about her concerns.

However, a spokeswoman for the postal network stressed that “there are no detailed plans yet for Harpenden, or indeed other branches we are looking at franchising”.

She said 10 employees in Harpenden had been told about the move to have the directly-run Crown Post Office branch turned into a franchise.

The spokeswoman added: “We are advertising for suitable potential franchise partners at the moment.

“Following that, and dependent on the outcome, we will draw up detailed plans which would be subject to a six-week public consultation.”

While the network says franchising makes the branches more viable the CWU called the programme “devastating news for members” and “blatant privatisation”.