Post offices cull attacked

THE backbone of communities across South Yorkshire could disappear after a plan to cull Post Offices takes place, Tory leader David Cameron said.

Tuesday, 2nd October 2007, 1:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2007, 11:08 am

Speaking to The Star, Mr Cameron accused the Government of having "lacked imagination" and outlined his own blueprint for saving the beleaguered post office network.

It was yesterday revealed that seven post offices in the Doncaster area are to be axed as part of swingeing cost-cutting plans.

Post Office bosses propose to close the Adwick-Le-Street, Balby, Bennetthorpe, Fishlake and Hatfield Woodhouse, Hyde Park and New Hexthorpe branches.

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A further branch in Wroot will be replaced with a so-called "out-reach" service, which will only offer services for four hours a week. Subpostmasters in those outlets due to be closed will be handed a "golden-goodbye" of around 60,000 for closing.

But Mr Cameron said: "I think the Government has completely lacked imagination in trying to make sure the post office network can thrive and be there in the future and my great fear is that the post office network will go and then in five or 10 years time we will look back and think 'how did we let this important backbone of services in our community disappear?'"

Government ministers have already given the green light for the Post Office to wield the axe on 2,500 branches across the country - leaving a "sustainable" network of around 12,000 post offices.

Mr Cameron pledged to examine whether the subpostmaster contract can be revised to allow Post Offices to offer more services.

The Government has previously been criticised for stripping away much of the Post Office's core business.

Once the first port of call for everything from savings stamps to TV and dog licences, the post office network has seen its "official" role diminish. The network's income from government, in the past one of its main sources of revenue, fell by 168 million in 2005/06 as more benefits were paid directly into banks.

An average post office branch lost about 40 per cent of its income as a result.

Mr Cameron said: "We want to look at the subpostmasters' contract and see if we can extend the range of services that they are able to provide."