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Post Office Closures

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 17 January 2008

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make a statement on the impact of post office closures on vulnerable people and rural communities. (179529)

It is because the Government appreciates the important social and community role of post offices that we have committed a subsidy of £150 million per year between now and 2011. Where post office closures are taking place, Post Office Ltd. takes into account the location of alternative branches, as well as the access criteria which are intended to ensure reasonable access in both rural and urban areas and include special protections for deprived urban, rural and remote communities.

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what discussions he has had with the Post Office on the length and timing of the consultation period for closures of sub-post offices. (179530)

The Government’s response to the national public consultation on the post office network, published in May 2007, confirmed that the period for local consultations on proposals for post office closures would be six weeks.

Before that local public consultation begins there are discussions in each area with Postwatch, with local authorities and with sub-postmasters themselves.

We have received representations to make the local consultations longer but we are keen to minimise the uncertainty over the network and for sub-postmasters and mindful that the process overall will take some 15 months from beginning to end.

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make a statement on the Post Office closure programme. (179535)

The process began in October and is being carried out through a series of area plans over a 15 month period. So far, decisions on six area plans have been announced, four have been closed but final decisions have not yet been made and a further four are currently open. We are about a quarter way through the process which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.