The Post Office is one of a number of ways to deliver Government and other traditional services and still has an important role to play. But we cannot ignore the fact that people increasingly want to access services in different ways such as direct debits, ATMs, the telephone and the internet.
Where a local authority is interested in funding continued post office service provision in communities where branches are scheduled for closure, we have encouraged Post Office Ltd. to talk to them. However, local authorities should understand that Post Office Ltd. will want to ensure that all relevant costs are covered, that there is a commitment for several years and that there will not be a damaging impact on other post offices in the area not scheduled for closure. Ultimately, it is for Post Office Ltd. and the local authority to discuss and agree the details of any such arrangements and to ensure that the arrangements are compatible with EU rules on state aid.
Following a national public consultation, the Government announced in May 2007 a new framework of minimum access criteria to maintain a national network of post offices and to support strategic changes to the network with up to 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new outreach locations. There is widespread recognition that the post office network was unsustainable at its pre-programme size. Post Office Ltd is responsible for implementing the network change programme and management of the programme is an operational matter for the company. The network change programme is continuing as scheduled.
(2) what conditions are contained in leases associated with franchise agreements to run post offices should lessees not maintain a post office function on the estate for the duration of the lease agreement; and if he will make a statement;
(3) how many post office franchisees have given notice to terminate their agreement (a) prior to the end of the franchise contract and (b) at the end of the franchise contract in the last six months; and if he will make a statement.
(2) whether at the termination of a post office franchise agreement the leasehold on that estate automatically reverts to the freeholder; and if he will make a statement;
(3) how many franchised post offices had franchises that were terminated at the end of the franchise agreement (a) by the franchisor, Post Office Ltd., and (b) by the franchisee in each year since 2001.
(2) what conditions are contained in franchise agreements to run post office facilities that trigger the early termination of the property lease agreement should those facilities not be maintained; and if he will make a statement.
(2) what conditions are contained in franchise agreements to maintain running post offices on an estate where the lease is a different organisation, individual or legal entity than the franchise.