Margaret Taylor, who runs Roseland Stores & Veryan Post Office in Truro, Cornwall, feels as if the sword of Damocles is hanging over her head. Her area's consultation period for closure is next April. She says that, in the various meetings and discussions she has been involved in lately, one shocking point emerged. Those attending were originally told that the reason the PO would be losing the TV licence business (after so many other services in quick succession) to PayPoint was because the utilities payment company had tendered a lower bid.
This, apparently, wasn't the reason. "The Post Office lost it because it couldn't promise to maintain the network," she says. "So we were crucified."
She has forwarded copies of letters exchanged between her MP Matthew Taylor (who, Margaret says, "has been brilliant fighting for the cause of retaining rural post offices and therefore rural life") and Michael Grade, chairman of the BBC at the time, which confirm what she says. Michael Grade wrote in November 2006: "The Post Office is a declining network and is unable to guarantee that the number of its local branches will not continue to decline in the future. The PayPoint network, on the other hand, is expanding. There are currently more than 16,000 PayPoint outlets nationwide and this is expected to rise to 17,000 in 2007. This compares with 14,585 Post Office branches."
Margaret's opinion on the closure programme: "It's murky. They held the last meeting in the most expensive hotel in town, distributed leaflets and made a presentation. They're doing this everywhere. How much will it cost?"
And this is all after the PO spent millions on the futile exercise of rebranding and then reverting to its old name. Now the rumour is that card account business for pensions may go through ATMs.
"I think we're doomed," says Margaret.