Friday, November 21, 2008

A Very Odd Story

I was astonished to read the headines in my local newspaper, the County Times today. There is huge coverage announcing that Abermule Post Office has been saved - and that our MP has almost done this single-handedly, by behaving like a tiger. There are photographs of champagne toasts being made. I'd better tell you what I find so odd about this.

Several months ago, Post Office Ltd announced that Abermule Post Office was to be closed, and an 'outreach' service put in its place. It was also proposed that it would be replaced with a mobile van. But at a well attended public meeting in the village, while local people were expressing their outrage over this proposal, Post Office Ltd explained that they would consider any other form of 'outreach' service - but that they were proposing the mobile van as a backstop, if no other form of 'outreach' could be found. Exactly the same proposal was made in Berriew, my village, where at a public meeting which I chaired, local opinion was equally outraged, but agreed that a 'partnership' agreement was preferable to a mobile van. This was quickly agreed, consulted on and has been operational for some time. This option was also available at Abermule, except that at the time, there were no takers for the 'Partnership' agreement. There were also no sites to park a mobile van, so the issue was held in abeyance while Post Office Ltd dealt with another closure programme in North Wales. I know all this because I remained in regular contact with them. I was very worried about the future of Abermule.

So what has actually happened? Well, Post Office Ltd have still closed the independent Abermule Post Office. Its great news that the existing local well regarded Post Office owners have now signed up to a 'Partnership' agreement. What seems strange about today's newspaper headlines is that this arrangement was available from the beginning as far as Post Office Ltd were concerned. I know this because I have remained in close contact since the original announcement. Indeed. I called into the Abermule Post Office a few weeks ago to inform the owners that Post Office Ltd would be calling soon to try to persuade them to agree to a 'Partnership'. So you can see why I find today's huge County Times coverage, and great claims of influence as all bit odd. But I am very pleased indeed by what has been agreed, and said as much when the Shropshire Star asked me about it on Tuesday.


Anonymous said...

Very odd indeed, especially considering how little Opik did on this. The paper is a Lib Dem mouthpiece and obviously feels it has to build up Opik because his reputation is so very low. It went overboard with a vengence today. As the election approaches we can expect more of this sort of propaganda.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Steady on. The County Times has every right to support the Liberal Democrats if it wishes. I have no complaints because it hass always been very fair to me. Also I don't know what the MP did on this, but I do know that despite my great interest in this, I would not claim to have influenced what has happened. The people we should be applauding are the Post Office owners who have decided to continue under the new arrangement.

ancient briton said...

Glyn said:

The people we should be applauding are the Post Office owners who have decided to continue under the new arrangement.

Well said, Glyn.

Does your local rag not have a letters page wherein the public can have their say?

I'm sure that one of your local supporters could pen a few words of the wider truth whereby the balance of fact could be rectified.

I commend you on your modesty in downplaying the 'small' nature of your involvement in the retention of local Post Office services.

Although you are not yet the MP for the area I am pretty sure that the locals will have discovered by now the true nature of their current rather shallow, fluffy representative and the more stable influence of your goodself.

Please don't run away with the idea that I am a supporter of your party, that of the current incumbent or even the current party of Government.

I think that they are all a shower of shite (kindly pardon my foul invective but polite language currently denies me a sufficiently robust contemner).

Despite my disagreement with much of your politics, you may take it from me that the good people of Montgomeryshire are not quite as daft as some may think they are.

In fact, I'll even have a quick word with William Hill's and see if they'll give me worthwhile odds on a new MP for the area. It's got to be worth a decent punt.....and I studiously avoid backing losers.

Glyn Davies said...

ancient briton - The reason I don't pretend to have influenced the decision is that I didn't - and I cannot stand people trying to secure credit when they have not deserved it. I suppose I could have had a minor role through contributing to public meetings (though I was not able to catch the Chairman's eye at Abermule) and in my local village of Berriew, where the issue was sorted quickly.

Anonymous said...

Glyn - I read your bog today after I had a phone call from a local Abermule resident. You will recall I represented Postwatch at the local meeting in Abermule...chaired by Cllr Wyn Jones.

Your comments are 100% correct and this was a great show of a local community working together without partisan thought.


Richard Edwards

Postwatch Wales Committe Member
1996 - Summer/2008

The Wilted Rose said...

This is a fascinating story.

It's a pity that Labour doesn't realise the social importance of post offices and stop closing them.

Glyn Davies said...

Thanks Richard.

Wilted rose - It does seem that Labour has belatedly recognised the importance of Post Offices when they abandoned the tendering process for the card account.

Anonymous said...

Your post office voice representative is to be commended for following up the Abermule resident. I was at that public meeting with a group from Castle Caer'ion and spoke to you on that night. The only politics being done was from the chairman of the meeting. I don't recall anyone asking our MP if he had voted in Parliament on the closures?????? As a Labour voter till now I will be looking at who puts our patch first and I guess its you Glyn Davies as I have just heard our party has chosen a Wrexham councillor not a local motgomery man or woman

Anonymous said...

This bias with your local paper is a tricky one, because so many people read it locally. This is something you hve to address. To shrug your shoulders and say they are quite good to you is just not good enough. Lembit Opik's arrogance in claiming this victory is breath-taking. You should not let him get away wih it, I think you should be more forthright and bolder in your approach to winning Montgomeryshire. The pictures of the champagne celebrations were sickening. Surely you Tories in Mont should be really creating about this? Where are you all and what are you doing about putting the record straight????

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I thought the public contributions to the public meeting at Abermule were very good indeed. After the meeting, I discussed the position with Post Office Ltd, and was disappointed by the determination to close Abermule Post Office as an independent PO, but acknowledged the reality. The same applied in Castle Caereinion and Berriew, the two villages closest to where I live. I was keen that the 'partnership' option was the best alternative. Berriew went that way immediately, and now Abermule has done the same. I do see the mobile van in CC, but don't know how its doing. I will call to buy some stamps there next time I'm passing.

anon - This is a matter of strategy, and I decided on mine when I became the candidate. I'm not going to complain about any bias that I see, and I do not want our party to either. In fact, I've never complained to the media in my life. My view is that I should trust the people, and work hard to deliver for them. I reckon I'll have some publicity, simply because I'll have the information - and I'm not going to make things up just for publicity. Montgomeryshire people are not daft. Even on this PO issue, there was much bemusement in both Berriew and CC this weekend, about the newspaper report.

ROMAN JONES Esq. said...

I see Messrs Opik and Bates have been very 'busy' with the issue of Post Office closures. How can they square their fight to keep Post Offices open when the LibDem Party whole-heartedly supports Britain's membership of the EU, and it is EU directives that are directly responsible for the closure of our Post Offices - forcing our Government to end its support for this nationwide service. Until we leave the EU, saving £40 million per day to boot, we will never save our Post Offices.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Castle Caereinion the Post Office that Sian Lloyd turned up to make a protest at? Funny how I don't recall her liberal ex going anywhere near the place! I can't believe he's claiming this as one of his biggest victories. All very well not to complain about bias Glyn, but a lie is a lie and you should put the record straight asa[

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Wrexham it is common knowledge Labour have selected Nick Colbourne a councillor who was so atrocious he lost his seat to Plaid in May's elections!

Lets just say there were plenty of cheers from all parties at the Memorial Hall in Wrexham when his result came through.

Can't see how he expect to win over Montgomeryshire!

Glyn Davies said...

Roman - Several of us worked quite hard on this. The harsh reality is that Post Office Ltd did not budge an inch on any of their proposed closures in Montgomeryshire - and its dishonest to pretend that they did. From the announcement of the proposed closure programme, Post Office made clear at every public meeting I attended, that they were open to discussion about the type of 'outreach' solution preferred, and that is what has happened at Berriew and now Abermule. You are correct to lay the blame for the closures on Government rather than Post Office Ltd, though I'm personally not at all sure which tier of Government has driven this.

anon - Indeed Sian did join Michael Rogers as part of the efforts to save his PO at Castle Caereinion. Unfortunately, I was not freee to join them on that day. I believe the MP did visit Castle Caereinion soon after the closure announcement, but I recall Michael telling me he was too late to meet those who had turned up to meet him. He certainly did attend the public meeting that was held in the Village Hall.

Anonymous said...

Glyn - I have just returned from my final Labour do/this is the last straw/ I never ever thought i would vote Tory/ but I am happy to give you a try - for all your efforts at Castle Cer'n and your work in our community on other matters/

Glyn Davies said...

anon 1 - I met Nick Colbourne at an FSB meeting last week. Unfortunately I had to leave early so I did not hear him speak - but he seemed a n extremely personable man to me. Since 1983, many Labour supporters in Montgomeryshire tell me that they have been voting Liberal Democrat 'to keep the Tory out' - so in an odd way, I wish him well!!

anon 2 - From my pespective I need a few thousnad others to do the same!! So I'll carry on working.

Anonymous said...

Just catching up with your blog and strikes me that your attitude towards the Lib Dem fiction in your local paper is just a tad blase. People are not psychic and unless you tell them the truth they won't guess it. You should be shouting from the roof tops that Lembit Opik is, at best distorting the truth ont his one, at worst telling a bare-faced lie. This is politics, not tea at the WI!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - its not blase, but calculated. When something like this happens, if I try to expose it, people will think and say "six of one and half a dozen of another". I work on the theory that every time it happens, a few more people see through it and become disillusioned. I must not allow myself to become defined in any way by the way my oppponent operates.