|New Acton Post Office Plans Being Discussed|
Management tells Rupa Huq MP that negotiations are ongoing
Rupa Huq with post office staff in WHSmith. Picture: Post Office
Post Office management have told Rupa Huq that they are about to recommence discussions with retailers in Acton about hosting a counter in their premises.
The MP for Ealing Central and Acton met with senior Post Office staff during a recent visit to her old workplace at the WHSmith in Ealing.
She took the opportunity to challenge management, including head of operations Deborah Proud, about the lack of a Post Office in the Acton area since the closure of the branch on King Street, next to Morrisons, in October 2018.
Dr Huq said, “The King Street Post Office was a vital asset and its loss in 2018 is still felt by all Acton residents, particularly among the elderly who often feel alienated by the world online. I couldn't then waste the opportunity to push for a new Post Office in Acton on this visit to my old place of work with the head office there.”
Laura Tarling, communications manager with the Post Office, told her that, before the Covid-19 lockdown, negotiations were underway with two retailers for the co-location of Acton Post Office within existing premises. These were suspended during the outbreak but are due to recommence. No indication was given of which retailers are being spoken to or any timescale for an opening.
The Ealing Central and Acton MP, who had a Saturday job at the Ealing WHSmith store as sixth former in 1988, met staff on 24 July, as rules requiring face coverings to be worn came into force.
Head of Post Office Operations Deborah Proud (R) with Dr Huq (L) Picture: Rupa Huq MP
She said, “In recent years Smiths has taken on the main post office of Ealing onto its premises and downsized so I was curious to see what the changes have meant in practice. In addition to that it’s been open consistently throughout the crisis so when head office offered me a visit I jumped at the chance”.
She thanked the retail and post office employees for all they have done to ensure customers can shop with confidence during the Covid-19 pandemic and told them of her fond memories of starting working life as a 16-year-old Saturday assistant at the retailer, adding: “I’ve since swapped the busy weekend tills for the hectic green benches of Parliament, but the skills I developed here — customer service, the importance of teamwork — have continued to serve me well.”
Ms Proud said, “We were delighted to welcome Rupa to our Ealing store and Post Office to meet the team and see how we’ve implemented our precautionary safety measures to protect both our colleagues and customers.
“We’ve been incredibly proud of the team in Ealing who have continued to provide the community with access to vital banking and postal facilities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and as lockdown restrictions have eased, it’s been fantastic to welcome back more customers to the store.”
Like other High Street businesses, WHSmith has struggled during lockdown. The company recently reported a 74 per cent drop in High Street revenue in the month of April.
Following the publication of research that suggests closing furlough could lead to 10 per cent unemployment by the end of the year, Dr Huq urged constituents to continue supporting businesses large and small.
She commented.“Things have certainly changed since my day. I used to toil in the basement floor ‘sounds’ section fetching vinyl records from out back to put in dummy covers at the till at the point of sale but I’m glad to see in an era where so many sales, for example of music, has moved to online transactions that WHSmith is still there.”
July 29, 2020