Archive for May, 2008

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Letter from Geoffrey Cox

May 30, 2008

Last weekend, in a flurry of activity, I left comments on Geoffrey Cox’s website.

Yesterday, I received a reply, which is reproduced in full below.

Proposed Post Office Closures

Thank you very much for your letter about the proposed reduction in services at your local Post Office.

I could not agree with you more about the necessity of maintaining a Post Office in Buckland Brewer and indeed all our local villages.

I have pledged to do everything I can to try and halt the closure of sub-post offices in Torridge & West Devon. In 2006 I organised and delivered a petition of many thousands of signatures to Downing Street and presented it in the House of Commons to the Speaker. I was a strong supporter of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters’ campaign and I have also joined the Conservative Parliamentary Enterprise Group Commission on High Street Shops. Further information can be found on my website at http://www.geoffreycox.co.uk

I will continue to fight for our Post Offices during this period of consultation and I shall pass on your comments to the Post Office’s consultation team.

In my view, this is the best way in which people can help save their Post Office. It is true that elsewhere in the country, the experience of the Post Office’s consultations has not been good and a few branches only have been saved. Yet, the first justification that the Post Office Limited has used for refusing to contemplate keeping a sub-post office open has been the lack of public response to the consultation.

It is vital that local people should get involved. Many of the decisions to close individual post offices are unexpected, even bizarre. We have to make informed and relevant arguments for the preservation of the threatened branches.

Thank you once again for making me aware of your views.

Yours sincerely
Geoffrey Cox, O.C., M.P.

I’d like to keep this site and the campaign free from party politics. I’m please that Mr Cox responded quickly. However, he didn’t say much more than I thought he would and this looks very much like a form letter.

In reality, Cox has little or no power to change the Post Office’s decision. He’s the wrong party, not that it has helped campaigners in the right constituencies.

Nevertheless, his office can provide guidance on how we take forward the campaign. That is vital.

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Geoffrey Cox MP – “Save our post offices”

May 26, 2008

Post Office - heart of the community

Our local MP, Geoffrey Cox, is behind the campaign to save rural post offices from closure. He has dedicated part of his website to the campaign.

Whilst the Buckland Brewer post office supporters will want to remain out of party politics, it is very encouraging that our local MP supports our cause.

A difficult aspect of the closure programme is that it can have the effect of pitting one rural community against another. I am sure that Mr Cox has had contact from every village threatened by the closure programme.

I believe that there is a strong case to keep our post office open. However, success in this campaign could be at the expense of another village’s post office.

Government and the Post Office have made clear that an organisation losing £4 million a week (though I feel that we need to return to the veracity of this claim) cannot continue to function in a competitive commercial market. Closures are part of the restructuring process. And, nothing looks likely to stop the closure programme, unless a beleaguered government sees this as a vote winner.

So, our campaign is focused on Buckland Brewer. I am sure that Mr Cox will fight to keep every post office open or at least mitigate the effects of closure where the evidence is overwhelming.

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Devon County Council supports rural post office

May 25, 2008

Devon County Council

From the North Devon Gazette website:

Devon County Council has said it deplores the scale of the post office closures and outreach services that were announced by Post Office Limited this week.

Councillor Brian Berman, the council’s Executive Member for Communities… [said]: “The county council confirms its willingness to invest in achieving sustainable post office services for the affected communities.”

As a priority, the council would like to see post office services retained or enhanced:

– In areas where growth in the size of communities is planned or likely.

– Where there are high levels of deprivation and where the loss of a post office could further disadvantage vulnerable people.

– Where the closure would threaten the viability of the only shop in the community, an associated business or other local businesses.

– Where closure will lead to a significant increase in road journeys to access post office services.

As our campaign will make clear, Buckland Brewer ticks all these boxes.

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More press coverage

May 25, 2008

Mopping up some of the press coverage of Devon closures from last week:


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Post office closures challenged

May 25, 2008

image - disabled access sign

A disabled woman in Sussex has challenged the Post Office’s nationwide closure programme. Her legal challenge, which will be heard by the High Court, is based upon the Disabilities Discrimination Act. Disability campaigners have argued that the closure programme violates the law because it discriminates against the disabled.

This is a narrow point of law and probably will not save every post office threatened with closure. But, it does show that campaigning is not a fruitless cause.

BBC News – Disabled women to challenge closure decision

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Katie shows how local shops can survive

May 25, 2008

You may recall that last year, Barnstaple-born Katie Hopkins, who appeared on ‘The Apprentice’ TV programme with entrepreneur Alan Sugar, visited Buckland Brewer to help troubleshoot our shops cash flow issues. She reported for BBC – Inside Out:

Katie Hopkins tells how she changed things around in this web exclusive interview…
“Village Post Offices have always been a matter of contention. Old people seem to love them.

“Young people don’t use them. Governments want to rationalise them. And locals fight for them.”

A direct result of Katie’s advice was longer opening hours and more shop promotions. She showed that local shops can carve a niche and compete with the big supermarket chains.

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Head of Royal Mail paid £2 million

May 25, 2008

The head of the Royal Mail, parent company of the Post Office Ltd is being paid £2 million, reports the Guardian.

Royal Mail’s chief executive, Adam Crozier, will receive a near-£2m payment this summer under the company’s long-term incentive plan, according to the annual report published yesterday…

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: …”This is an outrageous use of public money at a time when post offices and other Royal Mail offices are closing and postal services are being cut back. Adam Crozier is again being rewarded for managing decline instead of improvement in the company. This is a massive insult to Royal Mail employees and the public…”

Royal Mail’s chairman, Allan Leighton, defended the payout. “The payment covers three years during which the group, led by Adam and the team, has consistently exceeded expectations and met all the targets set by the shareholder…”