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Abolish Anti-Post Office Rules

Comment 4th July 2010

Rural Post Offices are becoming increasingly unviable and closing daily. This is partly because of restrictive Government rules about how they conduct their business. Abolish these rules.

In many villages a Post Office function is provided as part of a shop that employs just 1, 2 or 3 people. The Sub-Post Office is not a viable business propostion on it's own, but is a small section at the back. But Government rules say it must open exactly the same hours as a busy Post Office in town employing 10-20 full time staff. Increasingly the owners find they cannot put in 5 1/2 full days without employing extra staff that they just can't afford.

But their customers would easily adapt to different hours. The alternative is that the Post Office closes and they get no service. How is that better?

Also the tiny Sub-Post-Office has to provide a full range of services, many that are never used. Most people want to be able to post things, buy stamps, have a basic banking system, buy car tax and TV licences. Anything else is an optional extra.

Remove these restrictions, or accept that Sub-Post Offices are not run on commercial business lines and heavily subsidise them.

Why does this matter?

Local Post Offices provide an important part of the fabric of villages. As soon as someone has to get in a car or on a bus to go to town/a bigger village with a Post Office that has not shut down, they take a lot of their ordinary everyday business with them too. This damages all the businesses in the village.

Not everyone is mobile, so an underclass develops who canot buy stamps, TV licences, etc. These tend to be the elderly, disabled and unemployed, the most vulnerable memvers of society. Systematically disadvantaging them is not something to be proud of. Making products (like TV licences) available on the internet is not a solution.

Post Offices tend to be a social hub in villages. People meet, exchange information, make friendships and notice people who suddenly stop appearing (the elderly). Take away the shops and you are just left with a souless dormitary.

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