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 economies."
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 voluntary—in 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. Alistair Darling):
The answer to my hon. Friend’s question is yes, if somebody decided to close their post office with the result that the national criteria were not met—for a deprived area, in the case that she mentions—the 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 occur.
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 Commons click here
back to top