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Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff has warned that Worcestershire could be set to lose significantly more sub post offices than the national average because it is in the last area to be consulted about the Government's closure programme.

The Government has argued that it needs to close around 2,500 post offices to keep the postal service financially viable, but the current rate of post offices being earmarked for closure in areas where consultation has taken place appears to be lagging behind the target, leaving the possibility that the shortfalls will be made up by closing more post offices in areas yet to be considered.

Peter, who chairs the House of Commons Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Select Committee, asked George Thomson, General Secretary of the National Federation of Sub-Post Masters, at a committee evidence session into the post office network proposals if areas coming late in the consultation process were likely to be adversely affected. Mr. Thomson's reply was a non-committal "Not necessarily"

Commenting Peter said:

"On average, 18% of post offices in each area plan are being proposed for closure. However, in those areas where consultation is complete, the figures given to me show that only 14% are being closed on average so far. While this is good news for those areas who keep their post offices, there is a very real danger that it could be storing up trouble for areas like Worcestershire which will be consulted at the very end the process. We may have to close significantly more offices than other areas just to meet the Government's target.

"This is, quite simply, wholly unfair. The closure of post offices will have a significant impact on local communities, and must be done simply to make up the numbers. I will be seeking further assurances at our meeting next week from the post office minister, Pat McFadden, that Worcestershire will not pay a heavy price for being at the end of the closure programme."

Consultation on the closure programme in Worcestershire will begin in late August.

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