Jo leads new drive to protect local Post Offices

Jo is consulting with all sub-postmasters in East Dunbartonshire, to gauge the health of Post Office services across the area

Jo Swinson MP has today embarked on a fact-finding mission across East Dunbartonshire, to ask key questions of its sub-postmasters and build up a detailed picture of the health of Post Office services across the constituency.

Starting at Bearsden Post Office today, Jo held talks with owner Shirley Gilmour and manageress Pamela Muir over the effect of proposed changes such as the scrapping of Post Office Card Accounts and the future viability of Post Office services.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Jo said:

“The Post Office network has been starved of investment by our Labour Government and by the Conservative Governments that preceded it. It is now in need of major investment and reinvigoration to prevent the closures of many thousands of Post Offices that are expected in the years to come.

“In recent years we have already lost Post Offices in Bearsden, Westerton and Auchinairn. It is important that we nurture and protect our remaining Post Office services.

Jo Swinson with John Dickson outside Bishopbriggs Post Office

Sub-postmasters across the constituency have expressed their concern over the end of Post Office Card Accounts

“The Government’s refusal to commit to the future of Post Office Card Accounts is symbolic of its neglectful attitude to the whole Post Office network.

“Sub-postmasters are charged with running successful businesses, while bearing the brunt of the Government’s Post Office neglect, and for this reason it is vital to draw on their experiences as we look at how to move forward.

“I will be holding meetings with all sub-postmasters in East Dunbartonshire, following which they will all be invited to a consultation session to discuss the results of these meetings and provide a forum for ideas on how to secure East Dunbartonshire’s Post Office services in years to come.”

Sub-postmistress Shirley Gilmour added:

“The axing of Post Office Card Accounts has posed a new and serious threat to the viability of the Post Office.

“Sub-postmasters need to be given support to protect our businesses, otherwise I am sure we’ll see the disappearance of many more local Post Offices.”

Jo also visited Bishopbriggs Post Office, where she met with sub-postmaster John Dickson. Following the meeting, John commented:

“I am concerned about how my business will be affected by the scrapping of Post Office Card Accounts, and Bishopbriggs Post Office is not alone – many others will be under threat unless more support is given to the whole Post Office network.”

The current contract for Post Office Card Accounts (POCA) runs out in 2010. POCA has been far more popular than expected, with 4.5 million users, and generates £1bn of revenue for the Post Office. The Government has so far made no commitment over the renewal of the POCA contract after 2010, while it is estimated that of the 1,500 Post Offices in Scotland, two-thirds will not be viable after the Card Account scheme expires.

The Government’s policy to avoid “unnecessary” rural Post Office branch closures ended in March. This policy has previously slowed down the rate of closure in rural areas, but without this protection, many branches will close. UK wide, the likelihood is that over the next few years, 10,000 of the current 14,000 post office branches (urban and rural) will close.

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