Jo has renewed her of criticism the Government’s Post Office closures, after a new report by a House of Commons committee issued a damning assessment of the process.
The report by the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on the Post Office Network Change Programme, published today, is particularly critical of the consultation process. It states that “local concerns about the scale of the Programme were in effect ignored” because the number of closures had been pre-determined, and warns that this could bring the consultation process into “disrepute”. The Committee also branded the assessment of the social and economic impact of closures as “inadequate”.
When the planned closure of four Post Offices in East Dunbartonshire was announced as part of the Post Office Urban Reinvention programme in 2004, Jo carried out surveys of reactions from customers of all four Post Offices and submitted the results as part of the official consultation. Despite strong local opposition, all four Post Offices were closed, and Jo described the consultation process as a “sham”.
The Committee has said that in view of the modest financial benefits, and the upheaval that closures cause to communities, future closures should be a last resort.
Commenting, Jo said:
“The findings of this report will come as no surprise to people in East Dunbartonshire, who have lost Post Offices in Auchinairn, Killermont, Courthill and Westerton to another of this Government’s closure schemes.
“I said at the time that the consultation process was a token effort to save face, and this report merely confirms that the Government has made no real effort to listen to people’s concerns over Post Office closures.”
“It was very clear from the surveys I carried out at the time that closing our Post Offices would have a big negative impact on the local community. I am glad the Public Accounts Committee has pointed out that the Government should properly assess such impacts, but I wish the Government had listened to those of us saying this years ago, before we lost four Post Offices which were highly valued by local people.”