Peter Lilley, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has had meetings and discussions with staff at all five post offices in his constituency threatened with closure, and he passed on their fears and concerns when he met Post Office management at the House of Commons on Monday (21st).
He said: “I challenged some of the facts and figures on which they are basing their closure programme. At Whitwell, for example, the parish council say the proportion of the population of retirement age is much higher than the Post Office has supposed. And the customer numbers they are using for St Ippolyts are out of date and do not reflect a considerable increase in business there. Also some bus services are not nearly as frequent as the Post Office assumes
“In addition, they do not seem to have fully considered the impact of the proposed closures. The branch at 107 Station Road in Harpenden serves the Batford estate. Many people there do not have cars and they would find it hard to get to the already busy and often overcrowded branch in the centre of the town.
“Post Office management say they are using access criteria laid down by the government and are basing closures in customer usage and the fixed costs that would be saved by closing any particular branch.
“I urged them to put more effort into attracting new custom by expanding into new lines of business, but they made it clear that the government was insisting on the closures programme and has set a target of 2,500 closures.
“I attended a demonstration in Whitwell on Saturday when several hundred people turned out to register their protest at the threat to their local post office.
“Post Office representatives are attending some meetings and I hope people will take the opportunity to have their say.
“I would also urge everyone to make known their opposition to these cuts, which would seriously affect the elderly, the least well off and anyone without easy access to transport. Take part in the public consultation process by attending the public meetings, signing the petitions currently circulating and writing to the Post Office with your views.
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Freepost Consultation Team
“People can also send their views and comments by Email, to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Remember the consultation closes on August 26th. I complained that this meant it is being held when many people will be away, but the Post Office say they have extended the normal consultation period by a week to take account of the summer holidays.”
The Post Office is proposing to close four branches in North Herts – at Whitwell, Hexton, St Ippolyts and Blakes Corner in Hitchin – and the one at 107 Station Road in Harpenden.
* Attached is a picture of Peter Lilley addressing Saturday’s closure protest demonstration at Whitwell