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Post Office Closures (Thanet)

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

The Petition of Cllrs. Stephen Broadhurst, Michael Jarvis and Edwin Watt-Ruffell who represent the residents of Dane Valley, Thanet,

Declares that the proposed reduction in the number of Post Offices serving our communities will be socially damaging and is unwelcome.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Government, as the major shareholder in Post Office Ltd., to withdraw the current proposals and review the funding of the Post Office network.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Roger Gale, Official Report, 13 November 2007; Vol. 467, c. 643.] [P000052]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform:

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country and has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has been investing substantial sums in the post office network, totalling £2 billion since 1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003. It has decided to extend that support to 2011 with the provision of up to another £1.7 billion additional funding.

Post Office Limited is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 50 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on groups of Parliamentary constituencies.

Post Office Ltd develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch, and takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government as well as local factors affecting ease of access, such as local geography: rivers, mountains etc when drawing up its implementation plans. POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The consultation period for the Kent area finished on 12 November and Post Office Ltd published their decision in an Area Plan Decision Booklet for Kent available on their website at: .

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices and final decisions on which post offices will close are taken by Post Office Ltd in light of the responses received to the area consultations.