The Post Office is planning to close its Eastcote Branch in Field End Road and move services inside the high street's gift shop Forget Me Not.
People in Eastcote will get a chance to view plans for the proposed move and have their say on it at a community meeting next week. (Thursday, July 31)
The 'customer forum' will be held at The Tudor Lodge in Field End Road, Eastcote from 2pm until 8pm.
It will be a drop-in event to give people information on what the post office will look like if it moves from the Crown office in Field End Road to the Forget Me Not shop further down the road.
Forget Me Not, which has a double frontage, would be refurbished so that half of the shop would become the post office, leaving the other half to continue selling cards and gifts.
The post office would then be run by Token House Retail Limited.
The proposed move is part of a major programme across the Post Office network to make sure it is no longer reliant on Government funding.
A total of 76 Crown post office branches have either closed or been franchised, like at Eastcote - where the public counter is moved into a non-Post Office owned shop.
As part of a national walk out last year in protest against franchising, closures and a four-year pay freeze, staff in Eastcote joined members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to brave the rain and lobby passers-by to sign a petition against the move.
More than 300 people signed the petition in just three hours.
CWU regional organiser Huw Davies said: “Our main concern is the privatisation, because it comes from the Post Office running the service to a businessman running the service, and the priorities change from trying to give the best service to the customer to trying to make your business a
But Forget Me Not owner, Jay Gadhia, said: “The shop is a double unit so we will narrow the current gift range down to the core range so we will free up an area which the post office counters will go into.
“There will be no reduction from the service that the current post office offers and we open on Saturdays from 9am to 5.30pm whereas the post office at the moment opens from 9am until 12pm on a Saturday, so people will have more time at the weekend.
“We also open on Sundays from October to December so that will give people another day to use the postal services.
“It's also in a better location because people can use the shop’s car park and it is closer to the bus stop in Field End Road, so we hope this is a positive move for post office customers.”
Mr Davies said the staff at the Eastcote Post Office will have three options: they can apply to work inside the Forget Me Not shop, sign a compromise agreement and take severance pay or, apply to relocate to another Crown Post Office.
The Post Office has said there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the move.
Roger Gale, Crown Network general manager, said: “We are committed to keeping a Post Office branch in Eastcote and to maintaining the same levels of service for our customers. We believe the best way for us to do this is to change the way we operate the branch, so if the move goes ahead it will be run by Token House Retail Limited rather than by us directly.”
More than 10,000 post offices are being run by third parties within their retail premises, commonly inside WHSmith shops, like in Uxbridge High Street.
People can give comments on the plans during a public consultation which ends on August 20. If the move goes ahead the Post Office expects to relocate in October this year.
During the consultation, submissions can be made through an online questionnaire at postofficeviews.co.uk , by FREEPOST Your Comments to Post Office Ltd, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org , via the Customer Helpline on 08457 22 33 44 or Textphone 08457 22 33 55.
Customers are asked to quote branch code 010004 in all communications.