Thursday, 4 November 2010
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised continuing concern regarding the Tory and Lib Dem plans to sell-off the Post Office and the possible impact on rural areas during a debate in Westminster.
Speaking during the debate in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said:
"I represent a very rural constituency, and one thing that we have seen over recent years is new businesses springing up and using the internet to sell goods further afield than the isolated rural areas in which they are based. I am very concerned that the loss both of the universal service commitment and of Post Offices is inhibiting business growth. That will absolutely undermine existing small businesses and disincentivise new ones, not only in the Post Office network but in the wider rural economy."
Responding to the debate, the Minister responsible for the Post Office, Edward Davey, confirmed that the UK Government would announce its policy statement soon.
Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford commented:
"The Post Office plays a vital part in the life of local communities, and the UK Government needs to follow the lead of the Scottish Government and do much more to secure the future of the network in challenging times.
"While the UK Government claims that there will be no more closure programmes, the fact is that the current privatisation plans threaten the future of deliveries, jobs and services.
"We need clarity from Ministers over the implications that the Postal Services Bill will have for the network and how, for example, plans for mutualism will work.
"With so many Post Offices interlinked with other businesses, for example, located in branches of supermarkets or newsagents, it is difficult to see how this diverse structure can easily work as a mutual organisation.
"The UK Government should follow the lead of the Scottish Government who are doing what they can to support the network through initiatives like the business bonus scheme to provide rates relief and the Post Office diversification fund. These are concrete examples of how relatively small sums of money can be utilised to help strengthen the Post Office network."