10 Jun 2008

Uplands PO open today!

celebrate_web.jpgBelow is taken from the Town Council website - good on them - they were meant to be closed this morning - this is probably the first case of it's kind in the country of a Post Office reprieved through the courts. I heard yesterday evening from a jubilant John Marjoram. Apparently Andy Reed, David his son, Ben Falconer, reporter from Stroud Life and John Marjoram celebrated this partial victory with David Drew who treated them all to a meal at the "Portcullis"- MP's restaurant this evening. Well done indeed to all concerned.

Campaigners yesterday won a last-minute stay of execution in the battle to save historic Uplands Post Office. Just 35 minutes before Postmaster Robin Craig was due to shut his shop for the final time, solicitors in London’s High Court confirmed that a deal had finally been done with Postal chiefs.

It follows an 11th hour legal challenge on behalf of a 73-year disabled lady from Uplands. She is seeking a judicial review of the decision to close the popular Post Office.

Yesterday, Monday (June 9th), her solicitors sought an injunction to block the closure until a full hearing can take place later this year. Stroud’s Mayor, John Marjoram and his deputy, Andy Read, also spent the final day in the capital, lobbying Post Office bosses and the Prime Minister to accept the council’s £75,000 rescue plan, as well as supporting the legal action.

The break-through came at 4.55pm when Postal chiefs finally accepted the town council’s offer of funding, and Mr Craig was able to tell customers that it will be ‘business as usual‘ on Tuesday. The dramatic legal challenge is being seen as a test case. It is believed to be the first Post Office in the country to win such a reprieve through the courts. The move could offer a lifeline to other offices facing the axe under the government’s controversial Network Change programme.

The Post Office has served the hilly community of Uplands for more than 150 years. With an annual turnover of £2.6 million, it remains a popular and profitable business.

Cllr Andy Read explained: ‘As with all legal cases the future remains unclear. What we do know, is that in the face of an injunction, Postal chiefs backed down and finally accepted our offer to help fund Uplands. Postal workers were due to strip the shop of all it’s fixtures on Tuesday. Instead it has opened for business as usual. That alone is a major breakthrough.’
‘We have had this offer on the table since February. It’s a shame that someone had to go to the High Court to get them to listen. Hopefully we can now have proper discussions to find a way to keep Uplands in business on a sustainable basis.’

Stroud Mayor John Marjoram said that campaigners had been planning to lay a wreath at the door of Post Office Headquarters in London at 5.30pm if the legal challenge had failed. ‘Instead our MP David Drew invited us for tea in Parliament to celebrate!’ he said. ‘I am absolutely delighted. We were told we were wasting our time going to London on the final day. But we pledged to do everything possible to keep Uplands open. Sometimes you just have to try everything to get a result.’


The Town Council is not taking the action itself but has provided evidence in support of the claim. The solicitor acting for the Uplands resident is the same person who has been given the go-ahead to seek a judicial review of the decision to close a Post Office in Hastings, east Sussex on behalf of disabled pensioner Judy Brown. They key difference with Hastings is that that Post Office has already closed (the postmaster wished to leave!). In Stroud, the town council has said its funding is available to keep Uplands open, at no cost to PO Ltd, and Robin Craig, the postmaster, wants to keep it open. The solicitor believed that this was be a key factor in persuading the court that nothing can be lost in granting an injunction. Her case is currently scheduled for 3-days in October/November. It is hoped that the Uplands case can be heard at the same time.


Sue Luxton said...

Hurray! Well done all involved!

Merci said...

Fab news; undoubtedly will serve as an inspiration to others across the country.

Anonymous said...

Well done the Greens ! We have our own Judicial review under way to save 2 POs in Stowmarket,(Suffolk) and the principles apply to the faulty process being used everywhere.best wishes
Cllr John Matthissen (Green Party)