Boycott threat over post office relocation

Residents of one of Cork’s great city villages have threatened to boycott An Post if the company proceeds with plans to relocate their post office.

The warning came yesterday as the people and traders of Blackpool protested outside the city’s GPO on Oliver Plunkett St over An Post’s decision to transfer Blackpool post office from the village core to a nearby shopping centre from Feb 11.

They handed a petition of 4,500 signatures in to An Post’s local management team calling on the company to reverse its decision.

And they warned An Post of consequences if the transfer goes ahead.

“If they take the post office out of Blackpool we, the people, will take our business elsewhere,” local resident Ann Barry said.

An Post has awarded the contract to run Blackpool post office to Tom Scally, who runs SuperValu and a post office in Blackrock.

Despite intense local opposition, An Post insists the relocation will go ahead as planned, and that it will result in an improved service for its customers in the area.

But yesterday, almost 100 of those customers, many of them elderly, arrived by bus in the city centre to march on the GPO.

Led by two people dressed in grim reaper costumes and carrying a coffin lid bearing the words ‘RIP Blackpool’, they urged An Post to think again.

Mary O’Connell said locals won’t support the post office if the transfer goes ahead.

“The post office is the hub of the village. The village needs the post office to survive,” she said.

Ms Barry said: “If he [Tom Scally] thinks that we’re going to support him if he’s not going to facilitate us, then he can forget about it.”

Eileen Jones, who was born and raised in Blackpool, said residents are caught between An Post saying it’s Mr Scally’s decision on the location, and vice versa.

“We are a proud people. We have no intention of letting anybody push us around,” she said.

“And if Mr Scally is half the businessman he’s supposed to be, he won’t let his customers down, and we are his customers.”

She said the shopping centre was never supposed to hurt businesses in Blackpool village.

“It was supposed to be the opposite. It was supposed to be an asset. But they’re using the shopping centre now to drain the life out of Blackpool,” she said.

Lena O’Brien said people feel that if they don’t speak out now they’ll be “trampled on”.

It was Pauline Fuller’s first time on a protest march. She said: “We’re not going to be ignored any longer. We’ll protest every day until this decision is reversed.”

The residents have vowed to proceed with a protest outside Mr Scally’s business in Blackrock this morning, and with a protest at the shopping centre tomorrow.

An Post has pulled out of a meeting with the post office action group tomorrow because of its decision to picket Mr Scally’s business.

Company spokesman Angus Laverty described the decision to personalise this dispute as “unwarranted and unfair” and said the aim of the transfer was to improve the post office service to the people of Blackpool.

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