The public consultation period for the proposed closure of 2,500 post offices across the UK has begun in Kent and the East Midlands on 2nd October and older people’s charity Help the Aged is urging people to have a say in what happens to their local community post office by responding to the consultation. From now until the end of July 2008, 46 area plans will be published for consultation and the Charity is providing a detailed briefing pack for people who wish to respond.
In May 2007, Post Office Ltd and the Government agreed that nearly one in five post office branches should close. The area plans being published for consultation are the Post Office’s analysis of where those closures should occur.
Alan Burnett, Help the Aged Senior Policy Officer for Community Living, says: “Each area plan will be published for consultation, but the consultation period for each will only last six weeks. Consultees will need to act fast to submit evidence and prepare responses. With a large part of the older population likely to be affected, it is especially important that older people themselves get vigorously involved with this process.
“Petitions and placards won’t be enough – some closures are clearly inevitable. But well-researched and factually-based challenges to the Post Office proposals could shape the final outcome. Older people will bring practical knowledge and local experience to an exercise which might otherwise simply reflect computer modelling and geographical abstractions.”
Help the Aged is issuing the following advice to people interested in responding to the public consultation:
– Write individual letters showing local knowledge and personal experience;
– Examine the facts presented for closure closely;
– Find out the views of the local post office staff – how do they help older people in the community?
– Look closely at the journeys that will have to be made to alternative branches – are they practical? For instance is the one mile up a steep hill?
– Find out what plans are in place to make nearby branches able to cope with increased demand;
– Make sure the timetable for consultation has been followed exactly;
– Enlist the help of the media, locally elected representatives and a local celebrity – but only in conjunction with a detailed and well documented case;
– Use evidence gathered to campaign for a suitable replacement, for example, a mobile post office service.
The Help the Aged briefing pack is available from the Campaigns team on 020 7239 1930 or email@example.com.
Help the Aged urgently needs donations and support to help it in the increasingly challenging fight to free disadvantaged older people from poverty, isolation and neglect. Visit www.helptheaged.org.uk or call 0207 239 1982.