In a letter to Paula Vennells, the new Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd, Jo Churchill MP highlights the loss of local services across her constituency and the impact this has on residents reliant upon such services.
Mrs Churchill calls on the service to be “honest with rural MPs” if the Post Office is conducting a cost cutting exercise, stating she and others “would then be able to inform our constituents and include it as a factor in our consideration of rural sparsity”.
The letter was prompted by numerous concerns raised by constituents about the availability of rural Post Office’s including, as the letter highlights, a temporary service in Badwell Ash as well as the permanent closure of services in Botesdale, Walsham-le-Willows, Great Bricett and St Olaves.
In frustration, Mrs Churchill suggests “attempts to elicit information from [the Post Office] have drawn a blank, suggesting to me that there is no solution on the horizon.”
Explaining the reason for her concern, Mrs Churchill said:
“I represent a largely rural constituency with a somewhat elderly demographic who are definitely not as mobile as the majority of the population.
Many rely upon an accessible post office and indeed frequently base their choice of final home on its proximity to such services.
My constituents need certainty about the future of local Post Offices and that is what I am calling for.”
Brian Wilson Chair of Directors, Rural England CIC added:
"Post offices are of particular importance to rural communities, often located within a village shop and providing a focal point. We know from recent surveys that 98% of rural residents use a post office at some point, whilst 31% go there at least weekly.
Similar figures for use are true for rural businesses. Post offices are far more than a place to buy stamps and send parcels: for many rural residents they offer easy access to a range of services, including cash, banking, benefits and pensions."