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Post Office Closures (Shipley)

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

The Petition of the residents of the Shipley constituency and the surrounding area,

Declares that the Petitioners are extremely concerned at the threat of closures and the removal of public services to the post offices in the Shipley constituency and believe that this is a pressing public service priority within the Bradford district.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon the Government to recognise the importance of the post office to the local community and to other businesses in the Shipley constituency and to ensure that the Post Office honour their promise to maintain sufficient post offices and services in the Shipley constituency.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Philip Davies, Official Report, 19 November 2007; Vol. 467, c. 1071.] [P000058]

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.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network the Government announced back in May confirmation of its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to 2011. The Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services such as in pubs, village halls, churches or in mobile post offices, will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. Nevertheless, to ensure sustainability, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

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 Limited 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 Shipley constituency area (West Yorkshire) commences May 2008 and Post Office Ltd have confirmed that they will carefully consider the comments in the petition as part of the consultation process.

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.