6 Jun 2008 : Column 37P

6 Jun 2008 : Column 37P

Petitions

Friday 6 June 2008

Observations

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Post Office Closures (Bristol)

The Petition of those concerned about the proposed closure of Derby Road Post Office,

Declares the importance of this Post Office to the local community.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to instruct Post Office Ltd. to keep Derby Road Post Office open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc., —[Presented by Stephen Williams , Official Report, 3 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 1019.] [P000167]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform :

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network, allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country, and why it has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has invested £2 billion in the post office network since 1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office, as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network, the Government announced its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of a £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to this time. The Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services (such as pubs, village halls, churches and mobile post offices), will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. POL announced on 9 April that it will extend Outreach trials into urban areas which, if successful, could mean additional Outreach branches over and above the 500 originally planned. Nevertheless, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

Post Office Limited (POL) is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 50 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on groups of Parliamentary constituencies. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October last year and these plans will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until August, with the whole programme scheduled to take around 15 months to complete. The consultation period for Bristol and Somerset started on 26 February and POL will announce final decisions which will be available on their website at www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.


6 Jun 2008 : Column 38P

POL develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch. When drawing up its implementation plans, POL takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government, as well as local factors affecting ease of access, such as local geography (rivers, mountains etc). POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices. No decisions on individual Post Offices are taken until after local consultations. Those decisions are made by POL in light of the responses to the consultation, while subject to a four-stage appeals process involving Postwatch. The Review Process for closure decisions after the public consultation process applies where Postwatch shows that, for an individual branch:

The aim of the further review process is for POL and Postwatch to reach an agreed way forward by bilateral review, with 3 stages available at increasing levels of seniority. An addition to the review process provides for very difficult cases which remain unresolved after stage 3. At this stage the Chairman of Royal Mail Group will review the issues and reach a final decision.

Post Office Closures (Ilford North)

The Petition of residents of Ilford, North and others,

Declares that we, the undersigned, being local residents, deplore the consideration being given to the closure of three of our local Post Office branches.

These closures will be a serious blow for the elderly and vulnerable people who will be faced with longer journeys to obtain services they need. It will also mean longer queues at the branches that remain.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons takes a note of their very strong objection to the loss of these vital services and urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to instruct Post Office Ltd. to keep the Spurway Parade Woodford Avenue, the Fencepiece Road and the New North Road branches open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Mr. Lee Scott , Official Report, 2 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 11P.] [P000168]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform :

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network, allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country, and why it has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has invested £2 billion in the post office network since
6 Jun 2008 : Column 39P
1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office, as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network, the Government announced its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of a £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to this time. The Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services (such as pubs, village halls, churches and mobile post offices), will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. POL announced on 9 April that it will extend Outreach trials into urban areas which, if successful, could mean additional Outreach branches over and above the 500 originally planned. Nevertheless, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

Post Office Limited (POL) is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 41 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on groups of Parliamentary constituencies. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October last year and these plans will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until August, with the whole programme scheduled to take around 15 months to complete. The consultation period for London finished on 2 April and POL will announce final decisions in due course, which will be available on their website at www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.

POL develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch. When drawing up its implementation plans, POL takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government, as well as local factors affecting ease of access, such as local geography (rivers, mountains etc). POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices. No decisions on individual Post Offices are taken until after local consultations. Those decisions are made by POL in light of the responses to the consultation, while subject to a four-stage appeals process involving Postwatch. The Review Process for closure decisions after the public consultation process applies where Postwatch shows that, for an individual branch:

The aim of the further review process is for POL and Postwatch to reach an agreed way forward by bilateral review, with 3 stages available at increasing levels of seniority. An addition to the review process provides for very difficult cases which remain unresolved after stage 3. At this stage the Chairman of Royal Mail Group will review the issues and reach a final decision.


6 Jun 2008 : Column 40P

Post Office Closures (Surrey)

The Petition of Carshalton and Wallington residents,

Declares their opposition to the Government’s programme of Post Office closures, in particular the proposed closure of Post Offices at Seymour Rd, Bishopsford Road, Wrythe Lane, Carshalton Road, and Gander Green Lane.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to find alternative business for Post Offices to enable them to continue providing an invaluable service to residents, particularly those who are elderly or have a disability.

And the Petitioners remain, etc., —[Presented by Tom Brake , Official Report, 2 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 890.][P000165]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform :

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network, allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country, and why it has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has invested £2 billion in the post office network since 1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office, as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network, the Government announced its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of a £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to this time. The Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services (such as pubs, village halls, churches and mobile post offices), will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. POL announced on 9 April that it will extend Outreach trials into urban areas which, if successful, could mean additional Outreach branches over and above the 500 originally planned. Nevertheless, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

Post Office Limited (POL) is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 41 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on groups of Parliamentary constituencies. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October last year and these plans will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until August, with the whole programme scheduled to take around 15 months to complete. The consultation period for London finished on 2 April and POL propose to announce final decisions on 13 May 2008. POL will announce final decisions in due course, which will be available on their website at www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.

POL develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch. When drawing up its implementation plans, POL takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government, as well as local factors affecting
6 Jun 2008 : Column 41P
ease of access, such as local geography (rivers, mountains etc). POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices. No decisions on individual Post Offices are taken until after local consultations. Those decisions are made by POL in light of the responses to the consultation, while subject to a four-stage appeals process involving Postwatch. The Review Process for closure decisions after the public consultation process applies where Postwatch shows that, for an individual branch:

The aim of the further review process is for POL and Postwatch to reach an agreed way forward by bilateral review, with 3 stages available at increasing levels of seniority. An addition to the review process provides for very difficult cases which remain unresolved after stage 3. At this stage the Chairman of Royal Mail Group will review the issues and reach a final decision.

Post Office Closures (Teesside)

The Petition of those concerned about the proposed closure of Oxbridge Lane Post Office,

Declares the importance of this Post Office to the local community.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to instruct Post Office Ltd. to keep Oxbridge Lane Post Office open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc., —[Presented by Ms Dari Taylor , Official Report, 1 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 739.] [P000163]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform :

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network, allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country, and why it has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has invested £2 billion in the post office network since 1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office, as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network, the Government announced its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of a £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to this time. The
6 Jun 2008 : Column 42P
Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services (such as pubs, village halls, churches and mobile post offices), will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. POL announced on 9 April that it will extend Outreach trials into urban areas which, if successful, could mean additional Outreach branches over and above the 500 originally planned. Nevertheless, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

Post Office Limited (POL) is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 50 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on groups of Parliamentary constituencies. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October last year and these plans will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until August, with the whole programme scheduled to take around 15 months to complete. The consultation period for Cleveland, South Durham and Richmond finished on 26 March and POL propose to announce final decisions on 13 May 2008. POL will publish their decision in an Area Plan Decision Booklet for Cleveland, South Durham and Richmond which will be available on their website at www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.

POL develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch. When drawing up its implementation plans, POL takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government, as well as local factors affecting ease of access, such as local geography (rivers, mountains etc). POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices. No decisions on individual Post Offices are taken until after local consultations. Those decisions are made by POL in light of the responses to the consultation, while subject to a four-stage appeals process involving Postwatch. The Review Process for closure decisions after the public consultation process applies where Postwatch shows that, for an individual branch:

The aim of the further review process is for POL and Postwatch to reach an agreed way forward by bilateral review, with 3 stages available at increasing levels of seniority. An addition to the review process provides for very difficult cases which remain unresolved after stage 3. At this stage the Chairman of Royal Mail Group will review the issues and reach a final decision.


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