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Post Office Closures

Part of Deferred Division – in the House of Commons at 6:20 pm on 19th March 2008.

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Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Opposition Whip (Commons) 6:20 pm, 19th March 2008

I shall be as brief as possible in order to allow colleagues to make some brief remarks. It was encouraging to hear that hon. Members in all parts of the House appreciate the importance of the branch network of the Post Office, given its social function as well as the Post Office functions. We seem to have complete consensus on that. Rather less encouraging has been the fact that the only vision that many, but by no means all, Labour Members seem to have for the future of the post office network lies in taxpayer subsidy. The whole point of the motion is to suspend the closure programme so that we can examine the possibility of providing additional business opportunities or additional functions for post offices, in order to expand what they are doing, rather than shrink them, as has been happening over the past few years.

In 2004, my constituency suffered three closures as a result of the absurdly named "urban reinvention programme". Somebody—I do not know who—was probably paid a large sum to think up that name, which actually translated as, "We're going to close your post offices." My constituency now faces another three closures. The customers who suffered because of one of the first closures were sent to one of the post offices that is in the second round of closures. The distance to walk is much too far, in particular for elderly people. They cannot possibly walk 1 mile on a hill and then have to walk 1 mile back again. For elderly people or for young mothers with buggies and toddlers such distances are simply too far. I have spoken to a lot of elderly people who miss the social aspect of going to the post office every week. They now have to rely on neighbours, friends and family to go to the post office for them because it is no longer accessible for them.

I should like to express my extreme disappointment in Postwatch. A week or so ago, London Members had a meeting with the Post Office—

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