Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Post Office closures, it does not have to be this way

This may be old news to some but it still concerns many.

In short it looks like the government wants to close down 2,500 post offices. Well, they are being subsidised and yes that is with tax payers money.

Is that justifiable? On the face of it no.

However is that the question? Do they need subsidising?

Well, under current rules and restrictions yes. This situation has arisen over a number of years as the Post Office network has lost major parts of its business, like for example the processing of giro's and pensions and the latest, TV licenses, which you can no longer pay for in a post office but can in a number of shops.

Maybe the market has moved on. Fair enough.

However the reason why the post office can't compete is because the government has failed to loosen the rules on what the post office can and can't do. Whilst government is removing services from the post office network for what may or may not be valid reasons, the dead hand of government is failing to allow it to evolve, move on and attract new business.

I work in Burgess Hill. The main Post office in the town center closed there a number of years ago. Then it had a bit of a post office inside a large shop, and now it has by popular demand got a new post office. Good. There are a lot of people in Burgess Hill, and it would be odd to only have a few sub post offices dotted around. I can't help but notice how busy it is with regular business quite a lot of it generated by eBay.

This success story aside though what we are actually talking about is sub post offices, as well as main post offices. It is a fantastic branch network that can provide a lot of services.

Instead we have plans to cut the network back to save money. I am happy with saving money in principle, but closing post offices is not the only way to do it. Letting the post office network compete would save even more money. Alas that does not seem to be on the cards.

The Post Office needs help from the Government to generate new business ideas and opportunities, not closures. It provides a lifeline to the local economy and community and we have launched a petition rejecting these planned closures. We need your help to secure the future of these vital services. It just does not have to be this way.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I think sus-post offices are essential in Britain and closing them causes so much distress. When you live somewhere like this [small town in Sicily but it is much the same all over Italy] you realise just how good British post offices are and how multi-skilled the staff are. I was amazed to read that you can't buy your TV licence in the PO any more in Britain.

Benedict White said...

Well, yes Welshcakes. We have a valuable and useful resource and all we need to do to keep it is unshackle it.

Shame really, you don't know what you've got till its gone!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr White,
You have to understand that the Post Office closure programme is purely to get rid of the non profit makingside of the 'business' (since when did it become a Limited Company), so THEY CAN SELL THE POST OFFICE. This is why they are reducing the Post Office's ability to make money in order to have an excuse to close down rural (Conservative) post offices.

It is part of the Labourising of England which is the true 'Project'.