Wednesday 19 March 2008

Post Office Closures will Cost the Government Dear

Just back from Parliament where the Government's majority was reduced to 20 votes on the issue of the closure of local post offices. 20 Labour MPs voted against the Government in favour of a motion seeking a review of the closure process. A number of MPs who have lead local campaigns against their local post office closing nevertheless still voted for the Government or went missing.

In my constituency I am faced with the closure of three post offices. I have already lost my main post office, which has been relocated into the back of W H Smiths, reducing both the range of the shop's services and the size and accessability of the post office.

The post office is seen by most of us as an essential element of our local community. Closure of our local post office takes another slice out of the quality of local community life, just as the Tories did when they closed our local cottage hospital. Next under threat is the local job centre.

In 2000 the New Labour Government introduced legislation in Parliament to liberalise Britain's postal services. This was even in advance of European Union's moves to open up postal services across Europe to the market and privatisation.

I attempted to amend the Government's legislation to prevent this liberalisation policy because it was obvious what would happen. Liberalisation would innevitably allow the multi-nationals like TNT and DHL to cream off the lucrative contracts and thus prevent the subsidy of the less profitable community postal services. We predicted then that this would lead to post office closures. The vast majority of Labour MPs refused to support the amendments.

Everything we predicted has come true and this valuable public service is being destroyed bit by bit. Is it any wonder that New Labour's poll ratings are at a 24 year low?