Sounding the last post
THE news that many have been dreading has finally been delivered – the Post Office has named 10 branches in Comet country which are expected to close or be replaced by outreach centres before the year is out. The move is part of a broader plan to cut the
THE news that many have been dreading has finally been delivered - the Post Office has named 10 branches in Comet country which are expected to close or be replaced by outreach centres before the year is out.
The move is part of a broader plan to cut the number of branches nationwide by up to 2,500 - a plan deemed necessary by The Post Office in order to sustain the service.
Customers have until August 26 to give their views on the proposals to Post Office Ltd, but I can't help but think the fate of these post offices has already been sealed.
Some may think Comet country has got off lightly and, statistically speaking, this is perhaps true, but I think it is a mistake to underestimate the effect post office closures have on local communities.
The future of local shops will be threatened. Small shops rely on post offices to bring business to the area and post offices greatly contribute to the viability of communities, particularly small ones.
It's ironic to think the Post Office is making cuts to sustain its service and yet the move is bound to reduce small business productivity and consequently severely harm local economies.
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Post offices are vital lifelines to many people, particularly the elderly, and to a large extent provide a social service. It is a major way for many pensioners to keep in touch with their community, and a reason for some to get out of the house and make contact with the world.
I'm sure some people who don't have their pensions paid directly into their bank accounts will also be concerned that they will be unable to access them.
It is not realistic to expect those with limited mobility, such as the elderly and people with disabilities, to travel further to post offices, particularly if public transport, which is often infrequent and invariably unreliable, must be depended upon.
Many people who have cars will now use them to get to branches, rather than walk, and this will not only increase congestion on the roads but also have an environmental impact. Our carbon footprint will be negatively affected by these closures.
Also, as far as I am aware, the proposed cuts do not take into consideration the plans to build tens of thousands of new homes in Comet country by 2021, in order to meet Government targets. With an impending huge population growth, how will the remaining post office branches cope with demand?
Post offices are often the lifeblood of the community; an essential service with a valuable social role, and there are no guarantees that this will be the end to the cuts.
It appears the Post Office, which proudly brands itself "the people's post office" is clearly more interested in financial gain and maximising its profits than providing a public service.
While I remain sceptical about whether the fate of these post offices has already been sealed, I think it is still important for the voice of the people to be heard during the consultation period, which ends on August 26.
Apathy achieves nothing and if there is a glimmer of hope that our voices may be heard, we should holler with all of our might.
If you want to see your post office remain open, sign up to The Comet's petition by visiting our website www.thecomet.net