Post Office Closure Debate – Westminster Hall
With the pending closure of our New Cross Gate Crown Post Office, Sydenham Post Office, and many others across the country I attended the Post Office debate on Tuesday 25 April 2017, at Westminster Hall. Our MP Vicky Foxcroft made representations during the debate.
The Key matters brought to light was the promise that when post offices were being closed previously reassurances were given that the Crown Post Offices would remain. Yet the Post Office Ltd has gone back on it’s words. Now they are including Crown Post Offices, such as New Cross Gate Crown Post Office into the list of those threatened with closures.
The debate showed that this was very much a cross-party issue, and affects inner city areas, like New Cross Gate right the way across to rural areas.
Some of the points raised were:
- Post offices were the hub of the community.
- They are used by those who do not have bank accounts & by more vulnerable people of our communities.
- The Post Office should be growing and expanding it services, rather than closing.
- Crown Post Offices are overall breaking even. If a Post Offices is not making a profit then it is not being run properly.
- Post Office could become banks e.g. Post Banks, as they are a trusted name on the high street. They could become banks at a time when Banks on the high streets are closing. They could expand in the same way as Metro Bank.
- Franchises tend to be in smaller convenience stores, have less services, and do not have the bio-metric services used by the Home Office
- Concerns about staff turnover. Only 10 out of 400 staff have TUPE’d across, They are minimum wage jobs, concerns over training and high turnover of staff.
- Post office could also add community or advice services within them. Or a credit unit could be based there too.
- This is an opportune time for the Post Office Ltd to expand their financial services, rather than terminating 150 of their financial advisers at the beginning of the year.
- Quite often as Post Offices are the anchor partners tenants the Sorting Offices it results with the Sorting Offices moving much further away once their anchor Post Office has closed. It then becomes more difficulty for the elderly and vulnerable to collect their .packages when the Sorting Office has been moved to out of town area
- It was unclear what is the aim and where the Post Office Ltd vision for Post Offices is going? It should be taking advantage of the the changing markets in a positive way and becoming more profitable.
- The post office could expand to provide ‘Click & Collect’ services.
- Our MP Vicky Foxcroft highlighted that the Post Office Ltd are not providing information on the profitability of New Cross Gate Crown Post Office.
- A survey had revealed that people agree to the Government subsiding the Post Office if it avoids closure.
- There were concerns that consultation was not regarding the closure, and that it was solely about consulting on the final decision. There was no instances at all where consultation resulted in preventing a Post Office from closing.
With such a lively debate and so many very good ideas and suggestion on how to make Post Offices more sustainable, and fit for the future, made to the minister responsible for Post Offices. It was extremely disheartening to hear her response that she was defending the position of the Post Office Ltd. She had appeared to be nodding in agreement with both her Tory colleagues as well as the position members. Yet when she spoke the cloak of Government minister disappeared, and her robust defense of the closures made me forget that she was an Government minister and not a Post Office Ltd Manager.
We shall need to continue to fight to save our New Cross Gate Crown Post Office, and also join up with Sydenham Crown Post Office, and the CWU campaign with other Post Offices. So far our petition consist of approximately 1,600 written signatures and 780 signed online petition.
To watch the debate at Westminster Hall that starts at 9:45 click here
To sign the online petition click here