Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from Dr John R P Evans, Town Clerk, Tredegar Town Council to the Clerk of the Committee

  We have been alerted to the fact that the Welsh Affairs Committee are taking evidence concerning the closure of Post Offices in Wales.

  I enclose a copy of the letter sent to Mr Neil Jenkins on behalf of the Tredegar Town Council concerning the closure of the Sirhowy Post Office and a copy of Tredegar Town Council's motion to the NALC Cymru Conference in May 2000 which was unanimously endorsed by the Conference.

  We feel that this evidence including the apparent reluctance of the Post Office to advertise a vacancy and then claiming that there was no interest may well assist the Committee.

9 March 2001

Letter from Dr John R P Evans, Town Clerk, Tredegar Town Council to Mr Neil Jenkins, Retail Network Manager, Post Office Network

  With reference to your letter of 20 December 2000. This was reported to Tredegar Town Council at its recent meeting and Members were extremely dismayed at the prospect of Post Office services being withdrawn from Sirhowy.

  Members wish me to draw your attention to the fact that the topography of the area is neither flat nor gentle slopes. Sirhowy is both steep and in times of inclement weather (being some 1,100 feet above sea level) extremely difficult for people to travel to the other post offices you have suggested as potential replacements. As an indication of this we recently had some 12 cms (6 inches) of snow which fell in less than three hours. Although this was a record for the speed with which the snow fell, the actual amount is not unusual. Even in reasonable weather, travel is either on foot or by way of the occasional buses which provide Public Transport. You may be aware that Sirhowy is classed as one of the most deprived areas in Wales. Car ownership is extremely low and a number of the residents are dependent upon State Benefits—giros—which are cashed at the Post Office. Bank accounts are rare and withdrawal of this facility is already causing hardship. The people of the area are already taking this matter up with their local members.

  Members also wished me to draw your attention to the apparent anomaly in your third paragraph. At the commencement you state:

    Following the office closure, and in the absence of any interest from suitable applicants . . .

  At the end of the paragraph you state:

    . . . we are not planning to advertise the vacancy.

  How can you have tested the market for applicants to take over the business if you are not planning to advertise the availability of the Post Office?

  My Members are of the opinion, notwithstanding the pressures that we know that you are under, that the needs of the people in the Sirhowy area are best served by the continuation of the provision of the Post Office in Sirhowy.

  I would be grateful for your further observations especially on the point concerning the lack of suitable applicants in advance of any advertisement of the vacancy and then using the lack of applicants as a justification for not advertising the vacancy.

18 January 2001

Letter from Neil Jenkins, Retail Network Manager, Post Office Network to Dr John R P Evans, Town Clerk, Tredegar Town Council

  I am writing to advise you on the latest situation regarding Sirhowy Post Office. You may be aware that the office was closed on 13 April 2000. During this time our customers have accessed post office services at the nearby post offices of Dukestown and Tredegar, both of which are within a mile of Sirhowy Post Office.

  Following the office closure, and in the absence of any interest from suitable applicants, we have taken the opportunity to consider the wider issue of access to post office services in the Tredegar area. You will no doubt be aware that the Post Office is to face some stern challenges over the coming months and years as we look for new profitable sources of business to replace the loss of income when "over the counter" benefit payments work moves to Automated Credit Transfer from 2003. In the light of this impending change, and considering the close proximity of the neighbouring offices at Dukestown and Tredegar which our customers have used since April, it is difficult to see a long-term viable future for a re-opened Sirhowy Post Office at the present time. As a consequence, we are not planning to advertise the vacancy.

  Whilst I appreciate that this difficult decision may come as a disappointment for some, ultimately we believe that this course of action will help to strengthen the long-term viability and sustainability of the local post office network for the vast majority of our customers and, in doing so, ensure that our customers in Tredegar continue to enjoy reasonable access to a post office facility.

20 December 2000

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