Millions sign up to fight closures

SUB-postmasters from Cambridgeshire and the East of England will join thousands from across the country in London today (Wednesday) to lobby the Government to protect the nation s post offices. The rally, organised by the National Federation of Sub-postm

SUB-postmasters from Cambridgeshire and the East of England will join thousands from across the country in London today (Wednesday) to lobby the Government to protect the nation's post offices.

The rally, organised by the National Federation of Sub-postmasters (NFSP), will begin with the delivery of a petition, containing an estimated THREE MILLION signatures, to 10 Downing Street.

Members will then lobby their MPs to demand action in a bid to create a sustainable post office network.

While measures have been put into place in the past three years to strengthen the position, the union says these are only a short-term solution to a long-term problem.


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Across the country, post offices have closed or, such as in St Ives and St Neots, have been moved into shared premises.

St Neots was due to reopen inside Martin's Newsagent in the High Street yesterday (Tuesday).

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Stephen Edwards, Cambridgeshire branch secretary of the NFSP and a sub-postmaster in Haddenham, said over the past five years the Government had taken business away from post offices and now needed to give something back to make the network viable.

"When the Government introduced the electronic pension book, they took away half of our business. We have also lost the television licence and the Post Office Card Account (POCA).

"I would agree that if a business is not working, then it should close, but the Government has taken away business from a service that was working and has bolstered it up with subsidies."

Colin Baker, general secretary of the NFSP, said the petition calls on the Government to reverse a decision to axe the Post Office Card Account which he claimed sub-postmasters "depend on for survival".

He said the size of the petition highlighted the amount of public support for the post office network.

Mr Baker said the lobby will also urge the Government to publish a White Paper addressing the key issues facing the network and putting forward a clear framework for its long-term future, including:

* A thorough assessment of the social and economic role played by post offices in the UK, and the provision of ongoing support for non-commercial parts of the network.

* Recognition of the social value of post offices by using the post office network to deliver Government services, and to encourage local authorities to offer council services through the network.

* A definitive statement on the future size, shape and purpose of a sustainable post office network.

* A clear compensation framework for sub-postmasters in post offices forced to close.

The Countryside Alliance is also backing the call to the Government, claiming the network is facing a "death by 1,000 cuts".

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