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6 December 2006

Blair berated on Post Office failure ahead of landmark statement

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West today, accused Tony Blair of undermining the long-term future of the post office network in an exchange during Prime Ministers question time.

Mr Barrett blamed Government policies, such as the decision to scrap the post office card account for forcing many post offices out of business, and called on Ministers to rethink their plans for the future of the network.

The Liberal Democrat MP made the comments ahead of a major announcement on the future of the post offices network due to be made before Christmas by Department of Trade and Industry Minister Alistair Darling. The statement is expected to outline details of more proposed closures and a consultation process which will affect post offices throughout Scotland.

Mr Barrett also met with Post Offices Minister Jim Fitzpatrick earlier this week to raise the concerns of Edinburgh sub postmasters who are facing an uncertain future.

Speaking following the debate John Barrett said:

“The Prime Minster claims his Government are investing in the future of the Post Office network. In reality they are removing essential services such as the post office card account, and undermining the long-term viability of the entire network.

“Currently, the average Post Office receives around 10% of its income through the card account scheme. It doesn’t take an economics expert to work out that scrapping the scheme will have a massive impact on the viability of our local Post Offices.

“Instead of removing profitable services from Post Offices the Government should be instead thinking creatively and investing in new products to be delivered through the Post Office network.

“At this time of year, post offices are at their busiest. However, it is a sad fact that decisions by this Government are making it more and more likely that for many post offices, this Christmas will be their last.

Referring to Tuesdays meeting with Post Offices Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, John Barrett said:

"Since I was elected in 2001 over 20 Edinburgh based post office’s have closed. It is high time this Government woke-up to the importance of the Post Office network, not only in economic terms, but also for its vital community role. I made it very clear to the Minister that Post Offices in my constituency act as a focal point for local communities, and yet this Government seems content to see the network wither on the vine.

“If the Government is not prepared to give the necessary help to Post Offices then it will fall to members of the public to take the lead. In the coming weeks I will be launching a ‘use-it or lose-it’ campaign encouraging people to use their local post offices and show Tony Blair that Post Offices are as important and relevant today as they have ever been.

"I hope the Government will not be listening to Adam Crosier, the chief executive of Royal Mail who has stated that the Post Office network could be run with only 4000 offices as this would be a disaster for many communities."

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.