Thursday, March 20, 2008

How do we save our Post Offices?

Been to a meeting in Abermule tonight, where over 200 local people turned out to make the case for retaining their post office. It was a really odd meeting. Three reps from Post Office Ltd had travelled up to face the music, but it seemed to me that they were virtually powerless to reassure anybody. We didn't have the real decision takers there. They remain faceless and protected from local wrath.
The Post Office has been instructed by its only shareholder, the Labour Government, to shut down 2500 post offices and replace them with 500 outreach facilities. The Government has removed best part of half Post Office's business, and issued a lot of other directions as well. The helpless Post Office reps were no more their apologists. Local coucillor, Wyn Jones and local MP, Lembit Opik made some good points from the top table.

Now, lets be clear about this. The announcement of post office closures in Mid Wales is only 'proposed' at this stage. This must have been repeated so often that I started to disbelieve it. The position is that if the good people of Abermule can find another full-time post office in the area that should be closed instead, it could be reprieved. And its no good talking about other local post offices like Adfa (which was mentioned), because that's only open for 1 1/2 days a week. Its got to be full time. The ridiculousness of this would make you laugh if it wasn't so serious.

Its difficult to know what is the best approach that anyone committed to retaining public services should take. It seems to me that local pressure is important, but the most effective pressure has to be that put on the Labour Government. Which is why yesterday's debate in the House of Commons was so important. Its so frustrating that we came so close to winning the vote. It would have made a real difference. All I can do is continue my meetings with Postwatch and the Post Office. But I feel that I'm only scratching the edges of the sore.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

i see that opik didnt bother to turn up for the vote to suspend the closure of post offices. probably out rehearsing some television programme.

Keith said...

"All I can do is continue my meetings with Postwatch and the Post Office."

With respect, there is not much you can do anyway, Glyn, poor chap. This requires leadership from the MP. If Opik isn't pulling his weight, then people are stuffed. At least my (Tory) MP is trying his best. Just goes to show how useless Labour and Lib Dems are. Sad thing is that people carry on voting for Libs, desite everything.

Glyn Davies said...

anon/keith - Bit unfair on Lembit. I think that both he and Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire were not in Westminster for the vote because they were travelling to a meeting at Llandrindod. Personally, I would have thought the vote to suspend post office closures would have taken precedence over any meeting, but that's just a matter of judgement. I accept what you say Keith, but I do know key personel at Post Office Wales and Postwatch Wales - so I may as well try to influence them. The problem is that the only effective place to exercise leverage is the Government at Westminster - so all power to your MP's elbow.

Trefor Jones said...

The post office closure programme is a real concern. Leave aside the negative effect it will have on the community. I'm most worried about those people who rely on the post office/local shop to get their pensions and other goods. Take my home village for example. A bus will pick people up in that village 2 a day. Taxis are expensive. We are incredibly lucky to have an excellent post office although she is worried that her's could be one that closes.

Its a worrying state of affairs.

griff said...

"he and Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire were not in Westminster for the vote because they were travelling to a meeting at Llandrindod. Personally, I would have thought the vote to suspend post office closures would have taken precedence over any meeting, but that's just a matter of judgement."

You're dead right it should! What a useless pair of clowns. And also all those Labour MPs in North Wales who were banging on about closures, but still voted with the government like sheep. No guts, no integrity.

Alan Thomas said...

Nice comment Griff,
My MP is doing a grand job, highlighting the cowardice of his neighbour member for Conwy, he has also been very vocal of his support for the local health service, as he was when he where an Assembly member for some 6 months, when old Rod went awol.
To me, that has been is only error of judgement in public life so far!
Been an assembly memeber that is!
He has since redeemed himself!

suzy davies said...

Lembit & Roger were indeed at a meeting in Llandrindod on Weds - together with other Lib Dems (who could easily have made their points on their behalf), councillors, postmasters and other interested parties, inc me.

However, only those two had the right to vote in the House of Commons PO debate.

"Bit unfair" to criticise them? I think not! Rog has time to raise questions about the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth, but can't turn up to this hugely important vote? No brainer.

Keith - sadly, elected Lib Dem reps of Brecon & Radnorshire see "leadership" (or "leadership contest" anyway)as nothing more than the altar on which to sacrifice the Rainbow Coalition after the Assembly election. You'll have to look elsewhere for the real thing.

Onwards and upwards Glyn

Glyn Davies said...

trefor - I agree. But the blame should be placed on the Labour Government, rather than on the Post Office.

Griff and Alun - I agree with you, even if I put it rather more politely. And we do have an excellent champion of Post Offices as our MP for Clwyd West.

Suzy the rotweiller - Attagirl. You are spot on of course. How do they get away with it?

charles f davies said...

I first met David Ian Jones when he stood for Chester, there was some thing about him, I and others took to him straight away, alas he was not to be my MP for Chester at that time.
Years later my great aunt from Abergele went to see him ,as the now MP for Clwyd west, over something very trivial, and I was amazed when she told me some months later how good he had been to her, in her words a "lovely boy" and he certainly got the council t pull their fingers out!
Well done David!

Glyn Davies said...

charles - I've worked with david quite a lot, and know him to be a hard working and committed MP. Your judgement is sound.