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7 March 2007

Barrett calls on Government to halt Post Office closure plans

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today attacked the Government for their handling of the post office network and called for a halt on plans for any further closures.

Mr Barrett made the comments in response to a Government consultation on the future of the Post Office Network. The Edinburgh West MP accused the Department of Trade and Industry of undermining the long term sustainability of the post office network by removing key services, and attacked the poor handling of the previous round of closures in 2004.

Mr Barrett and local MSP Margaret Smith have written a joint submission to the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the Government’s consultation.

The latest proposals call for the closure of at least a further 2,500 local branches, on top of the 4,000 that have already been axed since Labour came to power in 1997 and the 3,500 that were closed by the previous Conservative government.

Commenting on the proposed closure plans, John Barrett said:

“The latest plans for restructuring come at a time when the network is still reeling from the last round of closures which were badly planned, ignored the views of local people, and have decimated coverage in many parts of my constituency.

“Any kind of strategic thinking in the Post Office Network is to be welcomed. However, rather than trying now to reorganise the distribution of Post Offices across Edinburgh, it would have been far better if they had considered the needs of local communities prior to the last round of closures.

“The closure of the Gyle Post Office was the best example of a complete disregard for the needs of local people. This was the busiest and without doubt the most viable Post Office on the West side of the city which served local people and the many thousands who worked at Edinburgh Park. It was also well used by the many businesses in the Gyle Shopping Centre.

Commenting on the Government policy on the post office network, John Barrett said:

The Government have let down sub-postmasters through a crippling lack of imagination in providing support and services. Local Post Offices should be a one stop shop for accessing Government goods and services. Instead, Ministers have removed key business such as pensions and benefit payment services as well as TV licences, vehicle excise duty and passport authentication duties from post offices.

“The Government is justifying further closures by pointing to the problems facing the network. In reality, it is successive Government decisions and policy that have undermined the viability of many local post offices.

John Barrett added:

“In Edinburgh, our post offices are invaluable centres for information and provide essential services, particularly to more vulnerable people in the community. Any closures planned by the Government will be vigorously opposed by local community groups and organisations.”

“As well as Government support it is also up to the public to give their backing for their local post office. I have been running a use-it-or-lose-it campaign across the West side of city since Christmas. It is up to all of us to send a strong message, from Edinburgh to Downing Street, that our post offices are as relevant in 2007 as ever before.


Notes

John Barrett MP and Margaret Smith MSP have submitted a joint response to the Department of Trade and Industry as part of the Government’s consultation on the future of the Post Office network.

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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.