COUNCILS COULD SAVE THREATENED POST OFFICE SERVICES
Some of the more than 2,000 Post Offices facing closure as a result of Government plans to streamline the network could be saved by local councils, according to the Local Government Association. It said many councils were already involved in providing post office services through partnerships with businesses and community organisations.
Meanwhile the pressure group, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, has claimed that while the closures will save some money the long term impact will be the loss of a valuable part of the rural services network.
The LGA has highlighted examples of successful approaches councils have adopted to ensure Post Office services are maintained in their areas. West Berkshire Council worked with a local pub landlord to set up a Post Office counter in his bar after the closure of the village shop and Post Office. Cumbria County Council has pioneered alternative models for services, such as combining the Post Office with a shop and a library ‘link’. In at least one case a village Post Office is now located in the Parish church and Reading Borough Council has even opened a sub post office in its civic offices.
The LGA, chairman, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said, “Councils are committed to creating places where people can thrive as part of a community. If the Post Office decides that a branch has to close then local authorities would want to step in to make sure people can continue to access the services they expect and need.” He said authorities had been battling for a long time to save Post Offices from closure and had been working with local people to find innovative ways to ensure counter services were not lost to people in rural or disadvantaged areas.
The Trade Secretary, Alastair Darling said although the proposals would lead to the closure of around 2,500 branches, the Post Office Network would still be larger than that of all Britain’s banks and building societies put together.