KIRKLEES Council leader Clr Robert Light today hit out at the Government’s ‘consultation charade’ following its confirmation of nine post office closures.
And the council leader warned that the Government’s actions were only the first phase.
There was every possibility the Huddersfield area and South Kirklees rural communities would face an even higher number of closures when the next round of proposed shut-downs are made public next month, he said.
Clr Light also vowed that the authority would fight to retain offices that will face the axe after the August announcement.
Only one of the 10 post offices on the original list will remain open. This is Savile Town in Dewsbury.
The nine closures confirmed by the Government are all in North Kirklees – Bradford Road, Batley; Fieldhead at Birstall;
Soothill, Staincliffe, East Bierley, Six Lane Ends at Heckmondwike; Whitley, Hopton and Knowle in Mirfield.
Clr Light said: “The Government’s cynical disregard of the strong feelings of local people, councillors, MPs and community groups and organisations demonstrates the mockery of this consultation exercise.
“We are very pleased at the outcome in Savile Town, which is as a result of the strong lobbying that was made by local people and local councillors. But the Government has not taken any notice at all of local feelings in the other nine areas.
“Its actions will leave thousands of people, many of them elderly people, ‘high and dry’ and isolated. Many of them will find it incredibly difficult and inconvenient to travel long distances to their nearest main post office.
“We wanted the Government to consider options to retain post office services in all 10 areas if possible.
“Although that was perhaps optimistic we felt that there was a strong case for retaining some Post Offices as they are, and to look at other ways of providing services in other local communities.”
He said a good example was the existing service at Whitley, which is attached to the Woolpack public house and restaurant. This was an example of using flexibility and imagination services to retain services at a local level.
But the office is to be axed.
Clr Light added: “Residents and local communities will be severely affected by the impact of these closures, not just with regard to the Post Office services they provide, but also the important part they play in being central to the life and vibrancy of small villages and communities.
“It now seems inevitable that when the next round of proposed closures is announced for other parts of Kirklees next month, that post offices in those communities will be in for a similar fate, although we will fight equally as hard to retain services for residents in those areas.”