More action on Post Office closures from West Midlands Lib Dem MPs

John Hemming

Two more West Midlands Liberal Democrat MPs have taken action in the fight to prevent local Post Office closures and to ensure local residents have a proper say in Royal Mail consultation processes.

This follows the protest by Birmingham Yardley MP, John Hemming, against all the proposed closures across Birmingham - including the four closures in Sutton Coldfield and Erdington.

Lorely BurtLorely Burt, MP for Solihull, has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament noting with concern that during the Post Office network change programme consultation in the Midlands so far, despite 160 objections to the closure of a post office, only four reversals have been successful. The motion goes on to say that post offices are to be supported and encouraged to thrive, rather than closed against the wishes of local people.

"I am concerned that this may be a cynical exercise with some post offices that are economically viable being lined up for closure, whereas others that may not be sustainable in the long term will go to the wall at a later date.

"I am seeking the support of MPs in calling on the government to ensure that residents ......have a real say in the future of their community post offices. Sub postmasters in Solihull assure me that they have a good business which local people are supporting. It would be a travesty to take that facility away when everyone locally benefits from it and wants to keep it," said Mrs Burt.

Paul Keetch, who represents the Hereford constituency, has also spoken out in favour of a new scheme which could help save threatened Post Offices. Mr Keetch wants the contract for the new card account to be awarded to the Post Office as they have the network to allow people from all over the country to access a card account of this kind.

Paul KeetchCommenting the MP said,

"It is essential that people are able to access their savings and benefits over the counter at their local Post Office. Some 4.3 million people throughout the country use the card accounts, including many pensioners. Without access through an organisation who they trust, like the Post Office, some may be denied access to their own money.

There is huge frustration that the Government simply do not recognise the social value of the Post Office. My Liberal Democrats colleagues and I have consistently and strenuously opposed the Government's plan to close 2,500 branches across the UK this year - on top of the 4,000 they have already closed, and the 3,500 post offices that were closed under the Conservatives. So, while we respect the need to get a competitive deal for the taxpayer by putting the card account out to tender, we believe that protecting the long term viability of the Post Office and avoiding yet more closures should be the Government's priority when they make a decision on the Post Office card account".

The card account contract is worth around £1 billion to post offices between 2003 and 2010. Without that income stream, many thousands of branches are likely to be unable to survive. The worst hit will be post offices in rural areas and in poorer urban areas. Quite simply, the people who most need the service of a post office will be most affected

Commenting further Paul Keetch said,

"Instead of pulling the rug from under people's feet, the Government should be building on the success of the Post Office card account. We need to find additional services to be provided through post offices, not cut the services that are already provided".