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Petitions

Volume 492: debated on Wednesday 20 May 2009

Petition

Wednesday 20 May 2009

OBSERVATIONS

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Post Office Closures (Cumbria)

The Petition of residents of Cartmel, Cumbria and others,

Declares that the Post Office in Cartmel provided a crucial service which was relied upon by the local community and therefore should not have closed.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government and Post Office Ltd to reinstate a full Post Office branch in Cartmel.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron, Official Report, 29 April 2009; Vol. 491, c. 1002.]

[P000359]

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

The Government recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why we are 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.

Under the Government’s postal sector reforms introduced in 2001, Royal Mail (which includes Post Office Ltd) has been given greater commercial freedom, as the management and unions themselves requested, and Government has assumed an arm’s-length role as a shareholder in a public limited company. Subject to agreeing its strategic plan with us, the board can structure the business as it decides best to meet the challenges of market development and changing customer needs.

The provision of post office services at Cartmel is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd.

Post Office Ltd has advised that the Cartmel post office branch closed on a temporary basis on 24 February this year. The sub-postmistress had been trying to sell the branch for some time, had failed to find a buyer and subsequently resigned, leading to a break in service.

In order to maintain post office services in Cartmel, Post Office Ltd is proposing to introduce a Hosted outreach service to operate from the Spar Stores in the village—a distance of 500 yards from its former location.

It is proposed that the Hosted service will be provided for seven hours each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will offer the same range of post office services with the addition of motor vehicle licensing. There is on-road parking immediately outside the branch.

Post Office Ltd is currently consulting on the proposed outreach service in accordance with the Code of Practice for Network Change, as agreed with Consumer Focus. The consultation finishes on 9 June 2009. Post Office Ltd will announce its decisions on the future of the branch in due course.