The petition of residents of Glasgow North West,
Declares that Post Office Limited has announced that the Post Office on Hecla Avenue in Drumchapel is under threat of closure; further that this provides a vital service for many local residents, the loss of which would have a detrimental impact on the wider community in Drumchapel as well as causing concern for staff; further that whilst there is the opportunity to franchise the current office, this could endanger the ongoing provisions of services and jobs in the local area, as well as this branch's current convenient location in the heart of the community; and further that visiting the Post Office, it is noticeable just how busy the counters are and how strongly the community feels about this proposal.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to call upon the Post Office to halt any plans to close the Drumchapel Post Office and ensure that these services and jobs can be maintained and protected in the local area.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Carol Monaghan , Official Report, 25 April 2017; Vol. 624, c. 1067.]
Observation from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Margot James):
The Government recognise the value of Post Office services to local communities across the country and understand that any potential change to service provision can cause uncertainty for the community and that some residents may hold strong views regarding this. The network is at its most stable in decades due to the significant investment that has been made to maintain and protect it. This investment has delivered the refreshed customer environments, increased opening hours and efficiency of operation which is needed to succeed in the competitive and changing markets in which the Post Office operates.
The Post Office operates as an independent business and the Government do not play a role in the day-to-day operational responsibilities of the company, which include decisions on the provision and location of individual Post Office services.
The Post Office’s rationale in looking for a franchise partner for some of its Crown branches is to ensure continued access to Post Office services for customers in the area in a way that is sustainable for the long-term. It is important that the business can ensure it has the right branches in the right locations to respond to changing consumer and market demands. Communities do not lose their post office. It is either franchised on-site or relocated to a nearby location, often on the high street, typically offering the same wide range of Post Office services.
Franchising Crown offices has proven a successful approach in the past and working with a retail partner is a sensible response to the challenges facing high street retailers, with the benefit of shared overheads across the combined Post Office and retail businesses, including property and staff costs, with the host also benefiting from increased footfall and income from Post Office products. Before the Post Office considers franchising a branch it undertakes detailed work to assess its long-term viability. The vast majority of the network (over 97%) already operates on a franchise basis.
Both the Post Office and its franchise partners are committed to providing a quality service to their customers. Overall customer satisfaction levels with the Post Office across its network are good, with levels of satisfaction over service and wait time acceptability both consistently very high. A recent report on the network published by Citizen’s Advice found that former Crown branches are performing in line with or better than traditional Crowns, in terms of access into and inside the branch as well as the quality of service.
In line with its Code of Practice, when the Post Office has a viable proposal for the franchise it will conduct a six-week local consultation, which will give customers and interested stakeholders an opportunity to find out the detail of the proposals and to provide feedback, which can help the Post Office shape its plans. The Post Office considers all feedback received during its consultation process carefully.