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.