The campaign to New Malden Crown Post Office launched on Saturday (February 8) as activists and supporters gathered on New Malden High Street.

Campaigners marched with a cardboard coffin representing the possible death of the Crown Post Office outlet and New Malden's High Street more generally.

The campaign is being run jointly by Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who represent thousands of postal workers in the UK.

The aim is to prevent a company called ZCO from being able to takeover — 'franchise' — the New Malden Post Office under plans announced last month.

As the Comet reported recently ZCO specialize in retail and have previously franchised a number of other outlets like the New Malden site.

Campaigners opposing the plans launched a petition after the announcement was made on January 14.

It has since gathered over 1,200 signatures.

"There is huge public support for our campaign to save the New Malden Crown Post Office from being franchised," Conor Bollins, chair of Kingston and Surbiton Labour, said.

"We will be taking our petition to key decision-makers at both local and national government until get a resolution," he added.

Campaigners are pointing to previous examples of a franchise taking over the operation of a Crown Post Office that has led to redundancies and reduced services.

The CWU communication workers' trade union, who opposed the former Coalition government's privitization of the Post Office in 2011, have since slammed the franchising of many Crown Post Offices across the country.

The CWU said in 2018 that the increasing number of Post Offices being outsourced into retailers like WHSmith threatened the brand's "long-term viability".

The Post Office previously told the Comet it would listen to residents' concerns about the franchising plans.

It said a ""wide range of Post Office products and services" would continue to feature under the new operator and that the site would remain at 150 High Street, New Malden.

Should the takeover go ahead as planned, the ZCO franchise is expected to be open by April.