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Could West End Post Office close ?

January 8, 2007 6:00 PM
Cllr David Goodall and Chris Huhne MP outside West End Post Office

Cllr David Goodall and Chris Huhne MP outside West End Post Office

There is a grand Government scheme to reduce rising losses and the problem of fewer people using the Post Office network. It's not about increasing the service available and it's not about freeing the Post Office from stupid Government red tape. No it's rather more basic all together. It's to shut about 2,500 more offices!!

This Labour government has the same policy on Post Offices as the previous Conservative one, i.e :-

  • Don't invest in the service, just subsidise it
  • Don't really change the system, just tinker with it
  • As losses mount shut Post Offices under the disguise of improvement or investment plans.

Under the last Tory government about 3,500 Post Office were shut, under this Labour one about 4,000 have shut already since 1997.

There is not even talk of making sure each natural community has a Post Office, so in the Government's eyes it be would acceptable for West End to have no Post Office because there are Post Offices at Hedge End, Bitterne and on Witts Hill in Southampton. These are all within an acceptable distance in their opinion !!

The final decision on which Post Offices will close has not been made and Royal Mail have not yet published any list to show which Post Office branch's will be affected. However Royal Mail has made their position on the Post Office network clear as the BBC reports before Christmas indicated. The Post Office network is not a key part of the Royal Mail business and so the Royal Mail simply wishes to close it down. If it was interested in the revitalising the service then it would be make the changes proposed by the Liberal Democrats and not simply shut branches as quick as possible.

The real truth of the Post Office network has been undermined by its owners the Government which is failing to take the necessary action to revitalise the service, whilst at the same time remove services from the Post Office.

The Liberal Democrats have good plans for better Post Offices which would improve the network and keep it as a viable business long into the future, we would :-

  • split the Post Office Ltd from Royal Mail, so they are two separate organisations, thus freeing the Post Office from Royal Mail restrictions and freeing the Royal Mail from having to maintain a Post Office network and so enable it to compete on an equal footing with other post carriers.
  • sell 49% of shares in Royal Mail, to raise £2 billion, to create an investment fund for the Post Office
  • give employees 50% of the remaining shares, in a John Lewis style trust
  • free Royal Mail from Treasury borrowing controls so it can invest enable Post Offices to invest in new business without current restrictions, e.g. as mini parcel depots for Royal Mail & private firms, as the shop front for local and central government, as fully integrated small businesses to provide a range of local services, as a local bank with cash machines & terminals in post offices allowed to be on the Link network.

Commenting on the Government plans for the Post Office network local councillor David Goodall said :-

"This Government needs to wake up and make vital changes to the Post Office service as the Liberal Democrats have proposed otherwise this country will lose completely this great national network"

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