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16 November 2009

Barrett slams Post Office closure consultation after damning report

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today heavily criticised the Government’s 2008 Post Office closure programme after a new report by a House of Commons’ Committee issued a damning assessment of the process.

The new report by the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee is particularly critical of the consultation process for the Post Office Network Change Programme, and states that “local concerns about the scale of the Programme were in effect ignored” because the number of closures had been pre-determined, and warns that this could bring the consultation process into “disrepute”.

The Committee also branded the social and economic assessment of the impact of closures as “inadequate”, and urged the Government to assess the impact of closures on rural communities.

The report also highlighted that the closure programme was the only part of the Post Office’s four part efficiency savings drive expected to make a loss between 2006-07 and 2010-11, and would make the smallest impact on future profitability.  The Committee has said that in view of the modest financial benefits, and the upheaval that closures cause to communities, future closures should be a last resort.

John Barrett said:

“Anyone who lost their local post office in the last round of closures will not be surprised by this new report. Closures were poorly thought through, poorly executed while the so-called public consultation are now revealed as a sham.

“In my own constituency I and Margaret Smith MSP organised our own public consultations to make sure that local people would have a chance to make their views known. It is a disgrace that we now hear that these views were effectively ignored as decisions on which post offices to close had already been taken.

“It was clear that the original consultation process was more about saving face than making saving post offices – today’s report proves that people in Edinburgh were right to feel let down by the way the process was handled.

“It is genuinely astounding that the heart has been ripped out of communities, with no adequate assessment of the social and economic impact, all to make very limited savings indeed.”

 

Notes:

The report by the Public Accounts Committee published on the 12 November 2009 is available here: 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/832/832.pdf

Post Office closures

Post Office closures

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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.