Billingham follows Hartlepool as Crown Post Office is marked for closure

The axe is set to fall again with a further round of Crown Post Office closures.

Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 2:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 2:06 pm
The Post Office in Hartlepools Middleton Grange was one of those announced for closure in 2016.

The Crown Buildings branch in Billingham is one of 37 due to close and become a franchise.

It comes after 62 branches – including Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Crown Post Office – were announced for closure in 2016.

A consultation ended in November on a proposal to move the service to the shopping centre’s WH Smith store.

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The Post Office had proposed closing the Hartlepool facility in February when the plans were announced.

Nationwide, about 300 staff will lose their jobs in the latest closures, while 127 financial specialist roles are being cut.

The Post Office says it is seeking “partners” for the branches, which are likely to be relocated into retail stores.

Roger Gale, sales and trade marketing director at the Post Office, said: “We’re committed to maintaining the Post Office’s special place on the high street, and the changes we are making underpin our continued commitment to give communities in every part of the country access to essential services.

“The Post Office’s network of more than 11,600 branches is easily the largest in the UK, with 17million customer visits a week.

“The vast majority of these branches are run with partners, and in the locations announced we believe this will also be a more sustainable approach for the long term.

“We will take time to identify the right partners over the coming months and all proposals will be subject to local consultation.”

However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has hit out at the plans.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “The latest round of closures is further evidence that the Post Office is in crisis and that the board of the company, backed by the government, is simply pursuing a strategy of slash and burn.

“This announcement comes less than three weeks after the closure of a major government consultation on the future of the Post Office and sticks two fingers up to everyone who took part in this.

“75,000 postcards were returned to the Government signed by members of the public calling for an end to the closure and franchise programme – the Post Office and the government have completely ignored their views.”

The union has staged strikes in protest at the closure scheme.