Opinion Former Article

Countryside Alliance: Isolated rural communities will suffer most from post office closures

Chief Executive: “for the Government to ensure the long term future of our Post Office network, they need to come through on their promise to make Post Offices the front line of Government”

Responding to the news today that up to 2,000 rural post offices will close from next summer to be converted into ‘PO Locals’ with limited counter services; Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said:

“This is essentially a downgrading of the postal services offered to local communities. The PO Local model will create a lower quality public service and will simply not be financially viable for most sub postmasters. Isolated rural communities stand to suffer the most from the closures and loss of postal services. We are concerned that there has been insufficient public scrutiny of the new model and the effect it will have on people’s everyday lives.

“We believe that for the Government to ensure the long term future of our Post Office network, they need to come through on their promise to make Post Offices the front line of Government. Before rushing into a decision and taking away Post Offices from the most vulnerable communities, the Government should consult on a more long-term strategy for the Post Office network. We believe that the long term viability of the network will only be safeguarded if Post Offices start offering more services, including financial and banking services.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The Countryside Alliance sits on the Post Bank Coalition

The Post Bank Coalition is made up of the Communication Workers Union, Countryside Alliance, Federation of Small Businesses, National Pensioners Convention, nef (the new economics foundation), PIRC and Unite the union. The Coalition was formed to campaign for a wholly publicly owned bank in the Post Office to serve needs of business, communities and the financially excluded.

The Post Bank Coalition are calling for:

1. A moratorium on the proposed roll out of the locals model until step 2 has been undertaken
2. A full public consultation on the network transformation programme
3. Transparency of how the £1.6bn modernization money is being spent by Post Office Ltd

We believe that, with Government backing, a Post Bank could be established by utilising some of the state-owned banking assets, which would provide access to a ready-made banking structure and a banking licence. We believe that there is a strong business case for bold action by the Government buying out the joint venture with the Bank of Ireland to deliver our vision of a Post Bank.

The Coalition’s key principles for establishing a Post Bank are that it should: be publicly owned, keeping profits within the business deliver a Universal Banking Obligation to ensure access to financial services in local Post Offices throughout the UK provide a more extensive range of financial services than are currently available through the Post Office reconnect banking with local communities and provide a trusted financial service responsive to their need

2. About the Countryside Alliance

With over 100,000 members the Countryside Alliance defends and promotes country sports and rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground.

The Countryside Alliance believes a vibrant countryside needs five key changes and calls on the Government to:

SERVICES – Ensure an accessible and reliable rural transport and broadband network
HOUSING – Promote local solutions to the lack of affordable rural housing
EDUCATION – Enable all children to gain a practical understanding of the countryside
FARMING – Support British farmers and producers
COUNTRY PURSUITS – Repeal the Hunting Act and champion country pursuits

For more information or to arrange interviews please call the Countryside Alliance press office on 0207 840 9220 or 07500 834 163 

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