The crucial role of post offices in local communities is being highlighted in Parliament by Lothians Green MSP Mark Ballard at the start of National Post Office Week (February 19-23). (1) Mr Ballard has challenged Executive ministers to come out fighting on behalf of Scottish post offices in the current Westminster consultation.
Green argue that post offices, rural, suburban and urban, are key to strengthening communities and local economies, and that vulnerable people and small businesses will suffer should the network be scaled back.
A recent Postwatch Scotland survey highlights how post offices play a crucial role in providing a hub for community services and activities, often in tandem with the only shop in a community. (2) A cut in subsidy support would put the future of the post office at risk and threaten viability of the shop – an unacceptable double whammy for the community, especially the elderly, disabled and poor.
Mr Ballard said, “The valuable lifeline function of many post offices must be taken into account and argued for by the Scottish Executive in negotiations with Westminster. The potential of post offices to play out their role at the heart of communities in villages throughout the Lothians also depends on the commitment of other government departments to allow them to continue delivering a wide range of services, such as vehicle tax renewal and purchase of TV licences.
“This is not just an issue for rural areas. Research has shown that each urban post office saves small businesses around Â£270,000 every year through the services they provide. They also help keep the local area vibrant, stimulating business for smaller enterprises. During National Post Office Week, ministers should reassure us that they are speaking up for Scottish post offices.”
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1. Draft motion lodged in Parliament by Green MSP Mark Ruskell:
That the Scottish Parliament:
welcomes National Post Office Week (19 – 23 February) which aims to highlight and campaign against the Westminster government plans to close approximately 2500 post office across the UK, several hundred of which will be in Scotland; Congratulates the coalition of groups behind the campaign including Age Concern, Citizens Advice, Communication Workers Union, Countryside Alliance, Local Works, National Federation of SubPostmasters, National Pensioners Convention, Royal National Institute of the Blind and the Townswomenâ€™s Guilds; strongly believes that an accessible post office network in urban, suburban, and rural areas is vital to the future of vibrant communities and sustainable local economies; notes research by the New Economics Foundation that each urban post office saves small businesses around Â£270,000 every year; encourages all interested parties to respond to the current DTi Post Office Network Consultation that runs until the 8th of March 2007; and also calls on the Scottish Executive to do everything in its power to oppose the proposed cuts in the Scottish post office network.