Negative reaction to post office response
Sep 1 2008 by Neil Atkinson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
CALDERDALE Council has received a written response from 10 Downing Street about the closure of Post Offices across the region.
But councillors are disappointed with the response from the heart of Government.
It follows the council’s decision to petition the government on behalf of the local community.
Last month Post Office Ltd announced their decision to shut branches across Calderdale including West Vale, Hove Edge, Lightcliffe, Shelf and Stainland, despite lobbying from the council.
Clr Amanda Byrne, portfolio holder for Community Services, said: “Over the course of four weeks, the council campaigned hard on the behalf of local people.
“We organised a petition signed by over 3,000 people, held a range of meetings where more than 300 local residents turned up to make their views heard, identified factual inaccuracies within the information used to establish which branches should close and wrote to the Post Office and No10 Downing Street opposing the proposals.
“The response from Calderdale’s residents has been a true measure of public outrage.”
Downing Street has now responded with a spokesman explaining that the government recognised the social and economic role of the Post Office and to say it was determined to maintain a network to allow people to have reasonable access. That meant 99% of the population being within three miles of a branch. It also points out that ministers do not play any role as part of the appeal process on closure proposals.
Clr Byrne said the response was very disappointing.
“I do not believe anyone has taken into account the unique geography of Calderdale. Three miles is a long way in Calderdale – because of the nature of the area it could mean people having to take several bus journeys to reach their nearest Post Office.
“I am appalled that the views of the local community have not been taken into account when making this decision, despite the best efforts of the Council.
“What concerns me most is that I fully expect another round of closures in a couple of years time when the Post Office Account Card contract ceases in 2010.
“No thought is being given to the must vulnerable people of our community, for whom the Post Office is a lifeline.
“This council has made it clear that we are opposed to the closure of any Post Offices in Calderdale and we will continue to fight any further cuts.
“It is really important that the local community gets behind us so we can continue to lobby on their behalf.”