How to save your post office
PEOPLE must stand up and fight to save their local post office. Shailesh Vara, MP for North-West Cambridgeshire, is urging people to make their voices heard when the time comes for consultation, and to support in The Hunts Post s Action Week. Starting on
PEOPLE must stand up and fight to save their local post office.
Shailesh Vara, MP for North-West Cambridgeshire, is urging people to make their voices heard when the time comes for consultation, and to support in The Hunts Post's Action Week.
Starting on April 21, we want as many people as possible to take advantage of the services offered by your local post office branch.
Our petitions will be in branches for you to sign, and our stickers will be there for you to pick up and wear.
Your support could be the difference in retaining these vital community services.
Post Office Ltd announces which Cambridgeshire post offices are on its hit-list for closure on July 8. This will be followed by a consultation period.
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It is estimated that about 30 post offices will close across the county.
However, people whose local branch is on the hit list should not give up hope, Mr Vara said.
"There are precedents for saving post offices earmarked for closure so people must not give up if their branch is on the closure list," he said.
Linda McCord, regional manager for Postwatch East, insists that the consultation period would be a genuine opportunity for people to put their views across.
"We've seen in the first area plan in Essex and part of Suffolk that three post offices were removed from the proposal at the end of public consultation, on the basis of intelligence gathered from the public and stakeholders.
"The key thing is that it's not about speaking loudly, it's about presenting real evidence of where they should consider not closing a particular post office.
"They will listen to demographic reasons - for example, if there are lots of people in the area and there's poor or no public transport provision. Or if there's migration to a nearby post office and that post office cannot take the extra customers without causing excessive queues.
"Any sensible, reasonable plans will be considered but people need to have a plan that is sustainable until at least 2011."
Mr Vara added he had discussed what action to take with Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and would be circulating petitions of their own from this week.
Post offices likely to be under threat are facilities in rural areas which are within three miles of another branch.
In Earith, more than half the village have already signed counter-top petitions circulated by The Hunts Post while hundreds more have signed the petition online at www.huntspost24.co.uk
During the Hunts Post Action Week, which begins on April 21, readers are encouraged to make use of their branch.
Not just a place to buy stamps, post offices offer car tax, television licenses, banking services and are often a focal point for a village.
Mr Vara added: "Post offices in rural areas are a lifeline. They are often attached to a shop and in some cases if the post office goes then the shop may follow."
INFORMATION: Sign the petition online by visiting www.huntspost24.co.uk, click on news and views and the link to the petition is on the blue bar.
POST offices do not just do stamps. They are a focus for a huge range of Post Office services from insurance to banking, council services to fishing licences.
The smaller offices do not offer the full range, but many readers will be surprised at what they can do through their local office. And the more they use it, the more likely it is to survive the axeman's coming round.
Postal services include Special Delivery 9am, Special Delivery Next Day, Airsure for priority handling and tracking of overseas mail, International Signed for (the equivalent of recorded delivery here), standard services for letters and small parcels, philatelic items, redirections service, Parcelforce Worldwide guaranteed services, Local Collect (which enables people to pick up their mail order goods), support services (such as poste restante and certificates of postage) and mail order returns.
Travel services include checking passport applications and sending them priority, foreign currency and travellers' cheques, travel insurance, EU medical insurance, and (on-line) home delivery of foreign currency, car rental, airport car parking, hotel bookings and transport to airports.
For drivers at some branches there is a photo-licence application checking and despatch service, issue of international driving permits and vehicle excise duty (tax discs).
The Post Office accepts payment and pre-payments towards a range of bills including telephone, cable TV, gas, electricity, water, TV licence, mail order, Council Tax, council rent, housing association rent, Inland Revenue self-assessment bills, insurance, record/CD/book club bills and TV and video rentals. You can buy Post Office savings stamps, and Post Office paystation is a new bill payment terminal being rolled out in parts of the network (including some rural areas).
Leisure services include the sale of fishing and game licences, stationery, commemorative coins from the Royal Mint, National Lottery tickets, and all Post Offices accept orders to send flowers by post or courier.
Money transfers can be made by postal order, special gift postal order and MoneyGram for international transfers.
Financial services include free paying-in and cash withdrawals to and from accounts with major retail banks, National Savings & Investment products, such as Premium Bonds and savings accounts, card accounts (including those for withdrawal of pensions), car and home insurance, bonds, child trust funds and even personal loans.
Telephone services include a HomePhone service, mobile top-ups and phonecards for use in the UK and abroad.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
ARE you fuming about the possible closure of your local post office? Will you be left isolated, unable easily to get to another branch to pick up your pension or benefits or to do little bits of essential shopping?
What are you or your community planning to do to fight back against the Post Office and save your lifeline branch?
The Hunts Post wants to hear from you so we can help champion your cause - and the cause of thousands like you who feel they have been let down by the authorities. We want to know how it will affect you, or your elderly parents, who face walking up to three miles to the nearest post office.
To have your say, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01480 411481 or write to Editor, The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.