Saturday, 12 July 2008

Post Office in confusion

Nice point made by Cllr David Parker at the public scrutiny meeting on proposed post office closures at County Hall yesterday (Friday)...
All the consultation on the proposed Network Change closures assumes the Morpeth Main Post Office is in Back Riggs - so post office users from Mitford or St Mary's Field are being referred to Back Riggs as their 'nearest'. Unfortunately - the Back Riggs Post Office is due to close at the end of October, and even if it is 'saved', it will be somewhere else in the town. So as David says - the consultation is flawed and should be withdrawn.
Personally - I think the consultation is also flawed because there seems to be no requirement to have a 'sustainability appraisal'. Government legislation requires all local authority plans and strategies to have an appraisal - I'm surprised that the Post Office Network Change strategy doesn't. Such an appraisal would immediate flag up things public transport access, and how other community activities and local businesses depend on the local post office.
Any delay in the closure programme would be useful - because it might give the new unitary authority a chance to get it's act together and 'do an Essex' to save the post offices. Or at least work with parish councils, community groups etc to provide 'Plan B' alternatives if the Post Office goes ahead with closures based on a very narrow concept of what a post office is about. It's reminiscent of the flawed analysis Beeching used when he just looked at ticket sales to determine which rail stations to close.

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