Silver Lining on Post Offices - Droitwich Standard

The saga of the Government's plans for Post Office closures continues to rumble on.

Recently the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling, came to the Commons to reveal that he would indeed be pressing ahead with the closure of around 2,500 branches nationwide.

Naturally, this news is very disappointing. If Worcestershire has average levels of closure, it will mean the loss of another 25 sub-post offices on top of all the closures of recent years.

Obviously the burning question is which offices will be affected. The Government will only tell us that we will know the full time-table for deciding on an area-by-area basis in July, and that the process will be finalised by the end of 2008.

Yet there was one silver lining in the otherwise gloomy statement. The Government altered the criteria that will decide the minimum level of access to sub-post offices. That could, I believe, save post offices such as the one on the Westlands estate in Droitwich.

However, the Government and Royal Mail are not doing enough to encourage innovation in the Post Office - they are instead happy to manage decline. The Government undermined the network by taking business away from it like pensions payments, television licences and car tax renewal and now will not do enough to help it build a new future.

Without wishing to sound alarmist, the 2,500 compensated, compulsory closures announced by the government could be just the tip of an iceberg. Further unplanned closures will occur as other sub-postmasters retire; we have no guarantees that replacements will be found for them.

This is a difficult and unsettling time for post offices. They serve our communities well and deserve better treatment than this.


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