Post Office Network consultation...
have your say!
The deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on changes to the Post Office Network is 8 March 2007. I urge you to contribute your views by completing the consultation document and sending your response to the address at the bottom of this page. You do not need to answer all of the questions so every response counts on this issue, however small! You can access a copy of the consultation paper by clicking here.
It is vital that we retain a thriving Post Office Network and this will only be possible if their social role is recognised and more services, particularly Government services, are made available through post offices. I am pleased that the Government is to continue with some form of post office card account and am pressing for the range of services made available through these accounts to be increased. However, I deplore the decision of the BBC to withdraw TV licence payment arrangements from post offices.
Sadly, over the past five years 1000 post offices have had to close. This has been due to falling revenues largely as result of the loss of business due to fewer benefit payments being made through post offices. It is true that the Government changed the way it paid benefits but this was inevitable as more and more people were opting to have benefits paid direct into their bank accounts. However, these closures have adversely affected vulnerable groups, such as elderly people, who may not be able to travel very easily to the high street or nearest town.
The Government’s consultation document contains some good ideas, such as the proposed introduction of 500 new ‘outreach’ services which could include mobile post offices that can go to areas of need. However, there are also proposals that could mean a further 2,500 post offices close. One reason for this is the proposed new rules for how close a post office should be to communities. At present, in deprived urban areas, the rule is that 99% of the population should be within half a mile of a post office. The consultation document recommends a reduction in the standard to 99% of people being within 1 mile of a post office. I am concerned that these new proposals will mean the Post Office Network is stretched too thinly across the population.
I believe that the Post Office Network should be preserved and funded so that it continues to ensure all members of our society can easily access the services they need. Rather than just maintain the services we have already, I think more local and central government services, as well as private initiatives, such as cash machines, should be channelled through the Network.
To publicise my views, I have signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 660, a kind of parliamentary petition. Click here to read the full text of the Motion. I have also signed EDM 902 and you can read the Motion by clicking here. I have also tabled two parliamentary questions regarding these issues. Please click here and here to go to the published answers from the Government.
Should you decide to contribute to the consultation, please send your response to::
Post Office Network consultation
Department of Trade and Industry
1 Victoria Street
I should also be grateful if you would send me a copy of your reply so that I am aware of your views.
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