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Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:14 pm on 15th May 2002.

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Photo of David Borrow David Borrow Labour, South Ribble 6:14 pm, 15th May 2002

I shall deal with that shortly, but first I want to consider support specifically for rural post offices.

The PIU report set out a way forward, but we need to ensure that systems exist to ensure that money reaches the places where it is needed. The Post Office must properly assess the sort of rural network that is sustainable and should be sustained.

Similar problems exist in urban areas. I accept that where there are many urban post offices in close proximity, it makes sense to have a smaller network of larger and more viable businesses to serve the area. However, the trick is moving from the current position to where we want to be in dealing with private businesses. Sub-postmasters and mistresses say that they have never felt that Post Office Counters is good at communicating and working with them or at managing the system. Unless we get the right management to cope with the essential change in the urban post office network, it will not happen.

Many of our problems are down to getting the right management to work in the existing structure and to use the funding properly to ensure the maintenance of the post office network and the right postal delivery service. My greatest fear for both is that we may have left it too late to appoint the right sort of management to make the necessary changes to the business. Our constituents will not only suffer poorer postal services, but hundreds of them in most constituencies will experience employment problems because of the difficulties of the post office for which they work and for which they want to continue to work.