The Petition of residents of Churchill and neighbouring wards in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency,
Declares that they object to the plans by the Post Office management to close its office at Lupus Street, Pimlico, London SW1 by March 2015 as it would be to the serious inconvenience of local residents and to the detriment of the community.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to intercede on their behalf to require that the Post Office maintain this important facility in its current form and location and desist from its plans to close it.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mark Field, Official Report, 17 July 2013; Vol. 566, c. 1270.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, received 19 August 2013:
The Government note the views of the petitioners about the future of Lupus Street Post Office branch, which is currently directly operated by Post Office Ltd, and is known as a Crown branch.
The Government note that the implementation of the Crown Transformation Programme is an operational matter which is the responsibility of senior management at Post Office Ltd. The Government, as shareholder, do not play any role in decisions relating to individual post office branches. In considering the future provision of Post Office services in Pimlico, it is important to note the wider context of Post Office Ltd’s proposals to franchise 70 Crown post offices and to merge or relocate a small number of other Crown branches.
The Government note that the 2010 Spending Review contained a clear commitment to modernising the post office network and safeguarding its future, and allocated a £1.34 billion funding package to provide for significant investment across the post office network. A condition of this funding package requires Post Office Ltd to continue to maintain a network of at least 11,500 branches, to comply fully with the access criteria, and with no programme of branch closures.
The Government note that the 373 branches of the Crown network have incurred heavy and historic losses, totalling £37 million in 2012-13. Eliminating these Crown losses is a key element of Post Office Ltd’s strategy to provide for the long-term sustainable future of the network, and the Government support the business in delivering that strategy.
The Government note that the current losses incurred by the Crown network contribute to around a third of the losses sustained by the network as a whole and this is not sustainable. No business, including the Post Office, can continue with a situation where some of its high street branches cost substantially more to run than they generate in revenues. In the case of the Lupus Street Crown branch, it costs £1.84 to generate every £1 of income.
The Government note that within their broader strategy for eliminating these unsustainable losses and achieving break even for the Crown network by 2015, Post Office Ltd has identified a group of branches where they see no prospect of eliminating the losses at a local level under the current operating and cost structure. The precise reasons will vary from location to location but commonly include factors such as high property costs and sub-optimal location to attract the necessary increase in custom and business to make them profitable.
The Government note that in the case of Lupus Street, Post Office Ltd is proposing to merge operations with the nearest alternative Crown branches at Vauxhall Bridge Road and Eccleston Street, which are within half a mile, and a mile of Lupus Street branch respectively.
The Government note that Post Office Ltd has however made it clear that, under each proposal, the full range of post office services would continue to be available in close proximity to the existing Crown branch. Furthermore, before any changes are made to the existing service provision in Pimlico, there will be a twelve week local public consultation under the terms of a Code of Practice agreed between the Post Office Ltd and Consumer Futures. The public consultation focuses on specific and detailed proposals for relocating the service provision, including such matters as ease of access, and responses are carefully considered by Post Office Ltd before a final decision is reached.