The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,
Declares that residents of Meir Heath object to the relocation of the local Rough Close Post Office branch from Grindley Lane to Sandon Road in Meir Heath; further that a number of products and services will not be available at the new post office; further that the Petitioners will need to find alternative providers to carry out the banking, parcel services and travel insurance on demand; further that there are limited parking facilities at the relocated site which would cause disruption to residents, road users and post office delivery; further that the relocated site would be unsuitable and would pose increased difficulties for the elderly, including the crossing of a major road; further that given the size of the premises, residents wishing to use Post Office facilities would need to queue outside; further that the new open plan serving positions may come with a lack of privacy and security; and further that the Petitioners currently receive professional services from fully trained post office staff with many years’ experience at the existing location.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to intervene to keep the Rough Close Post Office branch in its existing location on Grindley Lane.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir William Cash, Official Report, 17 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 731.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills:
The Government note the views of residents who access Post Office services at Rough Close Post Office.
The Government note that the provision and location of post offices is an operational matter which is the responsibility of the Post Office. The Government, as shareholders, do not play any role or intervene in decisions relating to individual post office branches.
The Government note that the 2010 Spending Review contained a clear commitment to modernising the post office network and safeguarding its future, and that Government have allocated £2 billion of funding since 2010 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, to maintain a service to the local area, the existing branch is being run on a temporary basis by a temporary agent. In such situations the Post Office works hard to identify a suitable long-term sustainable solution for future provision of post office services to the local area.
The Government note that when the Post Office has a viable proposal for the future provision of services then it consults on that proposal. The Post Office undertakes its local public consultation under the terms of a Code of Practice agreed between the Post Office and Citizens Advice. It is further noted that the Post Office held a local public consultation on its proposals regarding Rough Close Post Office, which was open for comment from the 3 February to 17 March 2015.
The Government note that the Post Office’s consultation process focuses on specific and detailed proposals for relocating the service provision, such as the suitability of the new location and ease of access, and that responses to the consultation are carefully considered by the Post Office before a final decision is reached. The Government note that the Post Office is currently considering the responses received to its consultation before it makes any decision.
The Government note that the Post Office’s proposals for the relocation of Rough Close Post Office to a nearby Martin McColls store would see longer opening hours and Sunday opening, with the majority of Post Office products and services still available, providing improved accessibility and enhanced convenience for customers in a modernised retail environment.