The legend that is Brian Fitch, and the case of the Phantom Post Office closure

“Brian Fitch is a legend and much loved by Labour people” says Dan Wilson.  Legend? True. Much loved? Not that sure. Deselected in Hanover, deselected in Hollingbury, defeated in Hangleton. But a survivor and a true character. The Council is the poorer without him. The tale of ‘saving’ the number 81 bus is true legend.

I promised a tale about ‘saving’ a post office. Back in the 1980’s (and I’m not sure if this story is 100% true, that ex-Labour councillor Andy Winter ran a campaign to ‘save’ the Hampton Place post office in Western Road. The campaign worked a treat and he was re-elected! Shame that a few years later, after he was ‘bumped’ off the Council by the Labour Party, the post office was closed and now is food outlet Cook.

But to end on a positive not, it appears that the Green’s Pete West may have had a victory regarding the Co-op Post Office in London Road. The Post Office is having talks with Pete West and others about relocating the service to somewhere on London Road and not towards Preston Park. Will this make a difference in St Peters and North Laine. It might just add a few dozen votes to his predicted huge majority.

Doorstep Brighton 4: post office closures and saving the number 81 bus

Yesterday I bogged about how Labour candidates Jeane Lepper, Tom French and Melanie Davis almost had a good bit of publicity when photographed with Sally Gunnell in the Argus.

I forgot to mention a real coup by the Greens regarding the threat to close the Post Office in the London Road Co-op.  Defending post offices from closure is a big winner.  The Green councillors were pictured in the Argus last week launching their petition against the closure.  But a source tells me that, in spite of having a high profile launch, the Greens lack the presence in St Peters and North Laine to maintain a regular presence collecting signatures at the Co-op.  Surely there is an opening for Labour activists.

Labour candidates in East Brighton, Gill Mitchell, Warren Morgan, and Craig Turton are doing well in their campaign to protect the number 37 bus.  I heard a rumour that, every time he stood for election in Hanover, Labour veteran Brian Fitch would run a campaign to save the number 81, and every time he was successful.  Legend has it that the number 81 was never under threat.  I’m not sure whether the story is true.  The sad reality today is that you don’t have to make up stories of cuts.  They are all too real.

And now an unholy spat is developing between Labour candidates in Queen’s Park and their Tory and Green opponents.  Tom French is campaigning to save the …. number 81 bus!  The spirit of Brian Fitch lives on (as does Brian Fitch himself!).  Tom French has been criticised by his opponents threat.  Who knows what the truth is? 

Last night I read an interview with the entire Lib Dem group on the City Council, also known as councillor Paul Elgood.  Rumour has it that I not a great fan of the Lib Dems.  Truth be told, I like the Lib Dems a little less than root canal treatment.  This interview, which you can read in the Brighton Free Press, must be one of the shallowest interviews I have ever read.  It reminded me of the questioning by the BBC of the Prime Minister in the 1950’s which had questions like “Sir, would you like to share with the viewers some more of your successes at the conference?”.  Come on, Brighton Free Press, you can do better than that.

The Legacy of New Labour, great if you are into lap dancing and gambling; shame about the post office

Latest government figures show how Britain has evolved under new Labour. Since 1997 the number of lap dancing clubs has increased by 1,150%, betting shops by 39%, and casinos up 27%.

On the other hand public libraries have reduced by 6%, police stations by 8%, schools are down 10%, swimming pools 21%, and public toilets down 23%.

And then there are post offices, down from 19,000 in 1997 to 11,500 today, a drop of 39%. This is the legacy of new Labour. Not a lot more needs to be said.

Post Office Closures

Having just spent the best part of half an hour queueing at my local post office (I know I got off lightly), my mind turned, as it does, to the general election.

In addition to Iraq, Afghanistan, the recession, etc., the closure of post offices will be a heavy weight around the necks of Labour candidates.

This is an issue the Greens should clean up on, but tthe Party’s lack of campaigning instinct has let them down to date. A million signature petition would have been in order.

Perhaps Labour should admit it got this (amongst other things) badly wrong. Re-opening closed post offices should be in the top ten commitments for a Jon Cruddas administration!