Gale's View - Post Office Closures  (October 27th 2007)

You have, if you have not already done so, about a week left to write to the Post Office to express your considered concerns about the closure of local sub post offices.

Objections should be based upon fact, rather than nostalgia!

The address to write to is

Gary Herbert,
Network Development Manager
c/o The National Consultation Team,
FREEPOST Consultation Team

Or you may e-mail (print off a copy and keep it)

While it is important that you write individually and personally it would be helpful if you would also sign one of the parliamentary petitions that are in most post offices and also circulating with the community.  These will be presented to parliament and forwarded, also, to the consultation team.

It has been said, by some posing as "independent", that "local politicians have sought to turn this into a party-political issue." Let's be absolutely clear about it. While the decisions affect the whole community, whatever the personal politics, the manner in which the "Network Development" programme is being implemented is indeed party-political as it is being driven by the Post Office shareholder, the present government. Anyone who tries to pretend otherwise is either a fool or a charlatan.

The earthly remains of Thanet's failed "grey party" have stated that both Conservative and Labour parties have overseen the shutting of Post Offices. That is factually correct.  And although I have opposed, on geographical and demographic grounds, the closure of specific outlets (The Crown Post Office in Birchington and the Greenhill sub-post office in Herne Bay are examples) I would also say that there is all the difference in the world between a sixteen stone man slimming down to twelve stone and a ten stone man slimming down to six stone.  One is acceptable - possibly even desirable - and the other is dangerous.

The Conservative Party recognises that the new Royal Mail and Post Offices have to compete in an electronic world where other carriers are allowed to deliver goods, letters and communications. That, though, is the case for pursuing the policy of allowing Post Offices to develop other financial and related services rather than making them work with both hands tied behind their backs and then, when they are not viable, claiming that they have "failed".

The Labour Party, in government, has systematically presided, as the shareholder, over the removal of television license, road fund tax and benefit payments from sub post offices. It has made it as difficult as possible for those wishing to collect benefits from Post Offices to do so and it has undermined even the grudgingly introduced Post Office Card Account by announcing that it will be phased out. 

It has done all of this with no apparent thought to replacement business and then has the gall to say that closures are necessary because business has fallen!  Of course it has. And it is therefore small wonder that some postmasters, who are small private businessmen, have had to recognise the writing on the wall and agree to take compensation for closure now rather than face bankruptcy later.

I and my Conservative colleagues in Kent are united in our view that the sub post office is, very frequently, the hub of the local community that sustains local small shops, is a meeting place for the otherwise housebound and isolated and should be preserved and encouraged to grow and offer a wider range of services to its local clientele.

North Thanet’s "not-the-parliamentary candidate", who will not be standing in the "not The Election" that will not be held on November 1st. postures outside a local post office that, we are told correctly, offers a valuable service to that local community.  South Thanet’s Labour Member of Parliament appears to take a different and pr-government "closure is inevitable" view.  Perhaps they should talk to each other!

Soon, no doubt, we shall be told that the campaign to secure a referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty is "a party-political issue"!  Now I wonder where Yesterday's Man from Birchington stands on that!

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