Suffolk MP calls for Post Office to improve transparency following ‘steady degredation’ of services
PUBLISHED: 15:28 06 June 2018
A Suffolk MP has written to the chief executive of the Post Office to complain about the “steady degredation” of services in her constituency.
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, called for the Post Office to be “honest with rural MPs” if it is planning to cut costs – citing the impact of a loss of local services on predominantly elderly residents.
The letter was prompted by numerous concerns raised by constituents about the availability of rural post offices, including a temporary service in Badwell Ash as well as the permanent closure of services in Botesdale, Walsham-le-Willows, Great Bricett and St Olaves.
Mrs Churchill said the Post Office had “drawn a blank, suggesting to me that there is no solution on the horizon”.
She added that she was particularly concerned about the impact of cuts on elderly constituents – who often rely on their local services.
In her letter, Mrs Churchill wrote: “Since I was elected in May 2015 I have observed a steady degradation in the service offered to many of my constituents.
“I represent a largely rural constituency with a somewhat elderly demographic who are definitely not as mobile as the majority of the population.
“Many rely upon an accessible post office and indeed frequently base their choice of final home on its proximity to such services.
“If the Post Office is conducting a cost cutting exercise I believe that it would be better to be honest with rural MPs. We would then be able to inform our constituents and include it as a factor in our considerations of rural sparsity.”
She added: “My constituents need certainty about the future of local post offices and that is what I am calling for.”
Brian Wilson, chair of directors at Rural England Community Interest Company, said: “Post offices are of particular importance to rural communities, often located within a village shop and providing a focal point.
“We know from recent surveys that 98% of rural residents use a post office at some point, whilst 31% go there at least weekly.
“Similar figures for use are true for rural businesses. Post offices are far more than a place to buy stamps and send parcels: for many rural residents they offer easy access to a range of services, including cash, banking, benefits and pensions.”