One of Barnet’s only remaining independent Post Offices has been earmarked for a retail merger under new cost-saving plans.

The East Finchley Post Office, in High Road, is one of just 370 ‘Crown’ branches that remain solely under the control of the public funded organisation.

The rest of the 11,000 stores are part or wholly owned by franchisees or high street retailers including WH Smith and the Co-operative.

But now the Post Office is looking to merge 70 of its remaining Crown branches, including East Finchley, which it says are losing £40million every year.

Critics say the part-privatisation could reduce the quality of service at the stores, which offer more extensive services than the standard branches.

But the Post Office says the types of services will remain the same and that staff will be transferred to the new branches in retail stores within the immediate vicinity.

A spokeswoman for the Post Office said local independent retailers as well as national chains will be considered for the mergers.

A six-week public consultation will be held in each area once a potential retailer comes forward.

A Post Office representative said: “Generally both organisations benefit from shared property costs and the combined footfall in the area.

“Customers tell us they like them and we’re not going to close any branches, even if a match can’t be found.”

The Barnet Labour Group has already launched a petition opposing the move.

East Finchley Councillor Arjun Mittra said: “Our concerns are that it won’t offer the same level of service. It is an extremely well-used branch and it is always very busy. I struggle to see how moving it is going to maintain the level of service.”