Did you see the ads on telly over Christmas? The people's Post Office... all comfy and cosy like in the old Hovis ads. What they didn't point out was: "Enjoy, because we're heading for mass closure." Was this some head office wheeze to supposedly soften the blow? You never can tell with the PO.
Not everyone is taking it lying down. Aasif Rabbani and his father and sister run three POs in York. Aasif's branch is safe (should think so too as he was super-keen enough to take a fast-track course last year to become a subpostmaster), but the other two are on the closure list.
York itself is behind the family's campaign. York Press, the local paper, has publicised the fact that the family has served the local community for 18 years, investing huge amounts of time and money.
It has run a petition that has been signed by politicians, businesses and people in the street, and has now reached 5,000 signatures. Aasif was due to deliver it to Downing Street on January 16 (shortly after this is being written) along with Julian Sturdy, parliamentary candidate for York Outer. They will then have to wait for two weeks after the deadline for public consultation of January 17 to discover their fate.
In Kent there was a lot of opposition to the planned closures, with local MPs and Kent County Council taking the lead. During the six-week public consultation period, Post Office Ltd attended 23 meetings in the county and received 5,400 letters and emails.
Despite all this, the list of closures included virtually all the branches that were put up for the consultation process. Of the 58 post offices proposed, 56 will close, with just two granted a reprieve. Depressingly, two additional branches have now been proposed for closure to replace them on the hit list, thus keeping the overall number of closures the same.