Headlines: October 3rd, 2007

Local government leaders are telling Post Office management that communities must be properly consulted over plans to close offices around the country. At the same time the Local Government Association has repeated its view that many of the offices facing closure could be saved with help from councils.

In the first of a series 36 announcements to be made in the coming months the Post Office has given details of the first wave of proposed closures which could see 58 branches in Kent, 45 in East Yorkshire and 77 in the East Midlands being axed. Before any final decisions are made there will be a six-week public consultation in each of the affected areas but it is anticipated that the majority of the offices named will close.

The LGA’s call for greater consultation come after it and the London Councils wrote to Alan Cook, the Managing Director of the Post Office, to highlight concerns raised by a number of councils that the company was failing to share information with them on closure plans in advance of the six week period. In the letter the LGA has asked for more information on the anticipated impact of closures on local economies, future population growth around offices earmarked for closure, the availability of transport to the nearest branch and what steps will be taken to protect vulnerable people from the affects of closures.

Councillor David Sparks, who chairs the LGA Regeneration Board, said,” Councils have long battled against the closure of post offices, working with local residents to find new, fresh and innovative ways to make sure that post office counter services are not lost to people who live in rural or disadvantaged areas,” and he added, “Councils are committed to creating places where people can thrive. If the Post Office decides that a branch should be considered for closure then it is only right that local people and local councils are given the facts.”