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.