Post Office Closures
On 17 May, the Government announced that on top of the 1000 post
offices that have had to close over the last five years, 2,500 branches will be closed
under a new restructuring programme of the Post Office network.
I remain disappointed that the Government has continued to downsize
the Post Office network and withdraw services which vulnerable groups need most. In
his statement to the House of Commons, the Minister tried to reassure the House by stating
that new rules will "guarantee reasonable access in both urban and rural areas
with additional protection for more deprived urban areas".
The Minister also stated that when closing a branch the Post Office
will have to demonstrate how it has considered "the availability of public
transport and alternative access to key post office services and the impact on local
In 2004, I battled against the closure of a series of Post Offices in
south-west Birmingham. Unfortunately the
closures went ahead and I have since experienced the negative impact on Post Office
services in those areas. I therefore made the
following intervention in the House of Commons after the Minister had read his statement:
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab):
Several post offices have already closed in my constituency, leading to increases in
queues with consequential reductions in business, because busy people are put off from
using those that remain open. One of the closures was voluntaryin Wychall road,
which is in a very deprived area. Do the measures proposed today mean that the Post Office
will now have to look proactively at replacing that post office, which it previously
refused to do? Will the Secretary of State also ensure that the definition of a deprived
area does not exclude estates within an otherwise more affluent area?
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr.
The answer to my hon. Friends question is yes, if somebody decided to close
their post office with the result that the national criteria were not metfor a
deprived area, in the case that she mentionsthe Post Office would have to look to
replace it. That is the whole point of having criteria. That was not the approach adopted
last time; a slightly
I shall use the Secretary of State's answer to examine if there is
scope to press the Post Office to replace the Wychall Road service. I shall post any developments on my website as they
To read more about my work on the Post Office in the past please click here, here, here and here.
To read the Government's response to the public consultation on the
new rules click here
To read the Trade and Industry Secretary's statement to the House of
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