Nick Herbert speaks out against post office closures
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has intervened in a House of Commons debate to speak out against the Government’s plans to close 2,500 post offices.
The Government's plans to close nearly one fifth of the existing post office network come on top of more than 4,000 post office closures nationwide and the loss of two post offices in the Arundel & South Downs constituency since 1999.
Following the Government's statement in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday 14 December), Mr Herbert challenged Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, stating that "for a great many people post offices are not a problem but an important public service".
Mr Herbert, who has met with both Sub Postmasters and customers on recent visits to post offices in Hurstpierpoint and Upper Beeding, went on to highlight the concern of local people at the possible loss of post offices in West Sussex:
"Does he [the Minister] understand the concern of my constituents in West Sussex who have had to face the proposed downgrading of local hospitals and a reduction in police community support officers and for whom this announcement will come as a further blow in terms of the delivery of public services?"
Post offices are particularly important in rural areas such as West Sussex, where they are often at the heart of local life and where they provide a valuable service not only to the elderly but also to young mothers and those who may not have access to their own transport.
Mr Herbert is keen to ensure the viability of post offices in West Sussex. One solution would to be enable post offices to provide a greater range of products and services and to encourage them to develop into ‘one stop shops' where people could access information and services from both local and central government.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Herbert said: "The Government's announcement represents another example of its failure to understand rural communities and their needs.
"Local post offices are an important community resource and it is vital that we do all that we can to examine new ways of ensuring their sustainability."
Notes for Editors
1. The Government's statement and Nick Herbert's intervention can be found at: http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061214/debtext/61214-0006.htm