London Mayor Ken Livingstone has confirmed plans to seek a legal challenge of the decision to close 171 London Post Office branches.
Mr Livingstone has previously suggested he would seek a judicial review if Post Office management failed to back down. In a statement issued today the Mayor said: “Communities in every part of London, especially the most vulnerable people, depend on their local Post Office. Post Office Ltd has not provided adequate time to consult on its proposals leaving me with no alternative but to ask lawyers to seek leave to challenge their decision to close 171 post offices in London through a judicial review.”
“After writing to the Post Office Ltd with my concerns and receiving an inadequate reply I’m left with no alternative but to go to court.”
“Over the last seven years there has been a 45 per cent reduction in the number of post offices open in London while at the same time the number of people living and working in the capital has increased. Now is not the time to be closing post offices but expanding the service.”
Conservative Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson accused his rival of only opposing the planned closures because there’s “an election looming”.
Mr Johnson said: “It comes as no surprise to me that six weeks before the London elections, and the day before the beginning of the election period, this Mayor has decided to make a grand gesture on this issue.”
“I have been campaigning vigorously against these closures for many months now. The local post offices are not only an essential amenity they also often act as a hub for their communities.”
“This Labour Mayor has known for ages that his government plans to close post offices and, but for a short statement, he has done nothing about it. Now with an election looming he has decided to get involved.”
“This is a cynical and sloppy approach to running the Capital. Londoners deserve better than his out of date approach. They will see through this and realise that the Mayor has had months to lobby his Government against closures and instead chosen to do nothing.”
Mr Livingstone’s office say he has been objecting to branch closures since 2002 and have released details of actions and interventions he has made over the past 12 months:
“In the last year he has written to the Secretary of State and has met separately with both the Post Office MD Alan Cook and the Minister responsible, Pat McFadden MP in order to underline his opposition to closures and the negative impact they are having on Londoners. The Mayor also responded to the Government’s consultation and wrote to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling MP, in March 2007.”