Rural post offices must not be closed

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has vowed to fight plans to close two post offices in his Arundel & South Downs constituency.

 

The Post Office has today announced that post office branches in Washington and Slindon in the Arundel & South Downs constituency will be axed.  A six-week public consultation has been launched.

Over the next two years, 2,500 branches will close across the country.  This follows the closure of 4,000 post offices since the Government came to power in 1997 - a quarter of the entire network.

Last year, campaigners handed in a petition against closures to Number 10 Downing Street signed by 4 million people.  In spite of this, the Government has pressed ahead with its programme to close post offices.  By the time of the next election, more than a third of the entire network will have disappeared.

The Government has set new access criteria for post offices, with 95 per cent of the total rural population across the UK to be within 3 miles of their nearest post office outlet.

Nick Herbert commented: "I am relieved that other post office branches in my constituency have been reprieved, but it does seem anomalous that two important branches in Slindon and Washington have been targeted.

"We must demonstrate to the Post Office that this doesn't make sense and ask them to review the application of their access criteria for these two villages.  I am absolutely determined to do everything I can to support the local communities in Slindon and Washington keep their post offices open.

"Rural post offices provide an important public service and they are a focal point of village life.  Many people in our rural communities, especially young mothers and the elderly, do not have access to their own transport.  It is vital that services remain local and accessible."

Mr Herbert added: "The Government should be supporting the post office network, helping them to provide a wider range of products and services, so as to make them more viable.

"First we had proposed hospital closures, now it's post offices in the firing line, too.  I believe that people have paid their taxes and are entitled to high quality local services."

The MP urged members of the public to respond to the consultation before the deadline on Christmas Eve.  He said that he would offer to attend local meetings in the villages to support any protest against the closures.

Ends

 

Notes for Editors

1. The public consultation for post office closures in Washington and Slindon ends on 24 December 2007.

2. Details of the closure programme can be found on the Post Office website at www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.

3. Members of the public wishing to take part in the consultation can write to the National Consultation Team, Post Office Ltd, Freepost Consultation Team (no stamp required) or e-mail consultation@postoffice.co.uk

Joe Coombes