A total of 16 post offices earmarked for closure have been saved so far due to heavy local pressure and intense campaigning at the public consultation stage.
While the reprieves have been greeted with celebration by campaigners and the retailers concerned, the successes have proved to be double-edged, as the net closure numbers have remained the same, putting a new tranche of previously ‘safe’ offices in jeopardy.
Cultenhove Post Office near Stirling was one of four from a possible 49 facing closure in the Greater Glasgow and Central Scotland region to have its status overturned. The Post Office was forced to rethink its decision after it received a deluge of letters and strong evidence from members of the community highlighting issues including the distance to alternative branches and lack of public transport for elderly customers.
Owner Mohammed Akram told Convenience Store: “It’s very good news for the community. The community leaders all helped with the campaign and lots of people sent in letters to the Post Office. There’s a lot of new people moving into the area and the post office is really needed. We’ve been here eight years and customers are very pleased we’re staying.”
Elsewhere in the UK, however, other subpostmasters have found their offices now under threat. Speaking anonymously to C-Store, one such retailer said: “Suddenly, I’m very much in the dark. I don’t know what’s going on. It doesn’t seem fair as we weren’t on the list the first time round, but now we’ve been told we’re likely to close.”
Reasons given by the Post Office for reversed decisions included local campaigns highlighting a lack of adequate public transport to alternative branches, as well as the inability of other branches to absorb additional customers.
But a number of subpostmasters have questioned the accuracy of the Post Office’s original data after one branch, Warley Hill in Essex, was stated as being in a different location in the Post Office’s official consultation material.
The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) described the number of respondents to the consultation process so far as “colossal”. RSA chief executive Ken Parsons added: “The response from subpostmasters and their communities shows the intensity of public feeling over this issue. However, while it may be good news for a small number of subpostmasters, it unfortunately just passes the pain elsewhere. We need to work to save the shops that are losing their post offices and we are involved in providing support for businesses who need to look at how to replace their lost income.”
Closure decisions are expected shortly on post offices in South Wales, Merseyside, Sussex, North Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
Second post: amended closures
Kent - 2/58
East Midlands - 2/77
East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire - 3/45
East Essex & Suffolk - 3/50
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - 2/63
Greater Glasgow & Central Scotland - 4/49
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