Miriam Margolyes on saving Clapham’s Post Office

The actor speaks out on local closures and the Post Office scandal

Image: (c) Jennifer Robertson – Kyte Photography

Call the Midwife and Harry Potter actor Miriam Margolyes has lived in Clapham since 1975, and is passionate about trying to save her local Post Office and the service it provides.

Campaigners have vowed to continue to keep fighting to keep the Crown Post Office on Clapham High Street open, despite the Post Office announcing that the branch will close on March 6th, after a six-week public consultation.

Miriam Margolyes is so outraged by this action, that we overcame a 12 hour time difference for her to talk to me from Australia where she is publicising her new book.

“I am so furious and upset about this. That Post Office is efficient and busy, and the thing that has made me the crossest of all is that there is no reason for this closure.

“Nobody in Clapham knows why it is being closed. It is popular, and central to our community.

“Elderly and disabled people are being pushed to go further afield to get to a Post Office and it’s not that simple for some people to travel.”

Not one to take things lying down, it’s clear that Margolyes feels particularly wounded by this closure, and the loss of convenience and what it means for the community.

“Every area needs a library, pub, school and Post Office. It’s as simple as that. So much of life is being automised and put on the Internet, we are being sidelined and disenfranchised and I mind very much for the staff.

“I have developed a very pleasant relationship with the postwoman and I feel that connection to community is key and we aren’t looking after each other enough.”

She is also appalled by the Post Office scandal, which is still very much in the news, with former sub-postmasters who were falsely accused of fiddling their books, gaining huge public support and awareness following the success of ITV drama Alan Bates v Post Office.

“The thing that is the most appalling is that so many of the postmasters were told by people that no-one else had the problem with the Horizon software  … and too many of them have said that for it not to be true.

“The way they have been treated is totally heartless.”

“I can’t believe the lack of humanity of man to man. I care about the world and what happens.

“I feel like the Post Office scandal is a symptom of a general disintegration of humanity, and I feel the Post Office has a duty to keep serving customers. Re-development of the Clapham Post Office is not essential, but being integral to the community is.”

It’s hard to believe that Margolyes is soon to be 83-years old and her enthusiasm and work ethic is as strong as her passion for Clapham Post Office.

As we speak she is promoting her book ‘Oh Miriam’ in Australia, which comes out in the UK in paperback on the 5th July.

She has also been recording in a new animation series in New Zealand called BADJELLY from the Spike Milligan book.

When I ask her what keeps her going in life she says: “Graham Norton, good luck…. And rage.”

The Post Office says that the Clapham Common branch is set to be closed so the building can be redeveloped, and that it believes locals will still have good access to postal services as there are four post offices within two miles of the one closing.  One in Balham Hill, Balham, Cedars and Alfriston Road, but none of these are Crown Post Offices, which offer a wider range of services.