Future of Post Offices unclear
PUBLISHED: 13:49 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:03 31 May 2010
A SUB-POSTMASTER fears for the future of his business after the Government announced it expects 2500 Post Offices to close in order to preserve the network. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling unveiled plans in the House of Commons last Thursday
A SUB-POSTMASTER fears for the future of his business after the Government announced it expects 2500 Post Offices to close in order to preserve the network.
Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling unveiled plans in the House of Commons last Thursday to invest £1.7 billion into the Post Office.
As part of the strategy, he said Post Office Limited would be "developing its restructuring plans involving local consultations on an expected 2500 Post Office closures at a mix of urban and rural sites," following a 12-week national consultation process.
Radwinter Post Office sub-postmaster Vic Rae said: "I'm not happy as we've been petitioning for a long time to save our businesses but the Government is just not listening to us.
"They seem to be trying to run Post Offices on the basis of a monetary value, rather than the needs of customers.
"I've no idea for sure whether my business is under threat, but my suspicion is that part-time sub-post offices such as mine, which is open four days a week, would be the ones to close."
Mr Darling also announced plans for Post Office Limited to open at least 500 new outlets to provide access to services for remote communities using mobile post offices and hosting post offices in other businesses such as pubs, community centres and halls.
These would not be a suitable alternative, according to Mr Rae.
"The mobile scheme has been piloted in parts of the country and I've been told that they don't really work," he said.
"My customers always say they would like me to be open five-and-a-half days instead of just four, so I don't think people would like the idea of a reduced service."
Last year the network lost £2 million every week, despite an annual public subsidy of £150 million. Mr Darling told the Commons: "Post Offices face a long-term challenge: internet, e-mail and text-messaging have meant people, young and old alike, increasingly use the phone or internet banking, cash point machines or direct debits to pay their bills.
"People are increasingly choosing to access services in different ways resulting in some four million fewer people using their Post Office each week than two years ago.
"Our strategy aims to protect the national network, equipping it to meet the challenge of today."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We welcome today's proposal from the Government on the Post Office network.
"We will now take some time to consider the details of the Government's announcement to understand fully the potential impact on the future of the Post Office, and how the Government's proposals will be impacted on by the discussions on funding for the Royal Mail Group as a whole.