TWO Sussex post offices could be moved into shops as part of a nationwide shake-up.

Bognor and Lewes Crown Post Offices are among 42 directly-run Crown post office branches that could transfer into private hands.

Fourteen staff at the two branches in Bognor and Lewes High Street were told of the plans earlier this week.

The proposed move, which will be subject to public consultation, could see the post offices co-locate with nationwide firms such as WHSmith or into local newsagents.

Around one in eight of the remaining 314 Post Office crown branches are subject to the proposals although the Communication Workers Union has warned a further 50 post offices employing up to 600 staff could be affected within the next two years.

Four hundred jobs nationwide will be affected by the changes if they go ahead.

The Post Office is now advertising for potential franchise partners to come forward over the next 28 days. If a suitable franchise partner can be found in Bognor or Lewes, the plans would be subject to a six-week public consultation.

Roger Gale, Post Office’s general manager of the crown network, said: “In some locations, directly-run Crown Post Office branches work well but in others there are alternatives, such as franchising, which can work better for the business and its customers, not just in terms of access to Post Office services but also in relation to long term viability.

“We need to continue to make changes to strengthen the Crown network and we have today announced that we are seeking suitable potential retail partners to work with us on providing franchised services for 39 branches and we are proposing to close three branches in areas where it is no longer viable to keep a Crown branch. “