Sham consultation on Post Offices exposed

The Government’s refusal to guarantee a genuine consultation on local Post Office closures shows contempt for Post Office customers, according to Jo Swinson.

The Government is due to reveal details of Post Office closures across the West of Scotland next week. The full UK-wide closure programme involves the planned closure of 2,500 Post Offices.

Speaking in the House of Commons today, Jo asked Scotland Office Minister David Cairns:

“Under this Labour Government a quarter of Post Offices in the West of Scotland have already closed, and next week when the public consultation starts we will learn which of the remaining 300 will face the axe.

“Can the Minister tell me whether he thinks the public consultation will be meaningful, and if the public voices strong opposition in the consultation, does he expect that a significant number of the Post Offices earmarked for closure will be granted a reprieve?”

In his answer the Minister declined to state whether he expected the consultation to be meaningful, or whether it might lead to a reprieve for some Post Offices facing closure.

Commenting later, Jo said:

“We have already seen huge numbers of local Post Offices closing across the country. My East Dunbartonshire constituency has lost more than a third of its Post Offices in recent years.

“With the threat of further closures on the way, I would have thought Ministers would be looking to engage with local communities. But with his refusal to guarantee that the planned consultation will be meaningful the Minister has exposed it as a token exercise.

“It appears that, as in the past with Labour on Post Office closures, the public will be treated with contempt and denied a genuine say. It is vital that communities can influence changes affecting their local services.”

There are currently 303 Post Offices in the West of Scotland (as defined in the Post Office regional closures plan) compared to 403 in 1999.

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