Government moves post office closures to avoid local elections

November 27, 2007 1:52 PM
Post offices

Mark with Cllr Helen Foster-Grime, Cllr Paul Porgess and Cllr Pam King campaigning to save our post offices

Local MP for the Cheadle Constituency, Mark Hunter has discovered that the planned Post Office consultation process over the future of their network has been postponed because of political considerations.

The consultation period to discuss which Post Offices in the area will close as a result of Royal Mail's latest proposals were scheduled to begin in May 2008 for the Greater Manchester and High Peak area. In a letter to Post Masters in the area, Royal Mail has now confirmed the consultation will not take place until AFTER the local elections.

In the letter Royal Mail stated that 'the closure of any Post Office can be highly sensitive and can potentially become a local political issue', especially in the run-up to Local and London Mayoral elections in May. Royal Mail also confirmed that for this reason they 'have been asked by Government to introduce a freeze on some element of the Network Change Programme during the run up to these elections'. This means that between April 7th and May 2nd Royal Mail will not be running any public consultations or making final closure decisions.

Commenting on the news, Mark Hunter MP said: "This information is absolutely shocking. The Government is demanding Royal Mail postpone the consultation period and decisions on closures of Post offices in our area for purely political reasons. This is scandalous and unacceptable.

"Local residents have a right to know what is happening with their local Post Office and a right to have their say on the possible closures during local elections. That the Government is manipulating the timetable because they are afraid that the voters won't like it is frankly appalling.

"Local Post offices are an immensely important part of our community and provide vital services. The elderly, disabled and young mothers in particular often rely on Post Offices for banking, picking up their pension, applying for passports, posting packages as well as using all the other services Royal Mail offers. As well as closures forcing people to travel long distances and increasing queues, post offices also encourage residents to use other local stores, these shops often lose custom if a post office does close.

"The Government has closed 4,000 Post Offices already and plans to close another 2,500. That they want to do this in a cloak of secrecy and stop the public from showing them what they really think about this plan at the ballot box is dishonest and deceitful."

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