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Post Offices: Closures

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what research he has undertaken into the likely effects of the proposed post office closures on rural and semi-rural areas. (177877)

[holding answer 21 January 2008]: It is Government policy, announced in May 2007 in response to the national public consultation on the post office network, to ensure national coverage and reasonable access to post office services with particular regard to vulnerable consumers and to rural and remote areas. Access criteria have been introduced to achieve this and in developing its closure proposals Post Office Ltd. has also to take into account a range of factors relating to accessibility of service provision and the local impact of changes to it. Under area plan proposals published so far, on average 90.7 per cent. of the population covered will see no change in the branch they currently use and 99.3 per cent. will see either no change or still be within one mile of their nearest post office.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many post offices have closed under the Network Change Programme. (180478)

The Government strategy for the post office network includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new outreach services.

Post Office Ltd. 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. Following final decisions on the proposals for the first area plans after local consultations, individual post office closures are now taking place. Area plan consultations are ongoing and will continue well into 2008.