Post offices could merge with libraries

RURAL post offices could be saved from closure by merging them with libraries according to radical new proposals being drawn up.Essex County Council is looking at “a merger” between its out of town libraries and post offices as a way of offering people “a new range of opportunities”, encouraging reading and saving rural facilities.

RURAL post offices could be saved from closure by merging them with libraries according to radical new proposals being drawn up.

Essex County Council is looking at “a merger” between its out of town libraries and post offices as a way of offering people “a new range of opportunities”, encouraging reading and saving rural facilities.

In the past three years, 17 post offices have been shut in Essex and Suffolk, forcing affected customers to travel to take to get the essential services they need.

The idea has been raised as a possibility by the county council's libraries manager Michele Jones.


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Whilst Post Office Ltd currently has no plans to close any more rural post offices, a spokesman for the company did confirm their interest in new ways of running them, because rural post offices lose the Post Office about £140 million each year.

Elsewhere in the UK, post offices are now being run in a number of locations including pubs, village halls and, in one case, a Chinese restaurant.

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Philip Baker, chairman of the county council's community services policy development group, vowed to do what he could to get the merger proposals through county hall and out into the rural communities of Essex.

He said: “I think this will go forward. I think it is a brilliant idea though I don't know at the moment exactly where it will lead.

“It is about providing more facilities to the public. They could read some books, take out a DVD and do their post office business as well.”

Mr Baker said the idea might help prevent any future closures of rural post offices because it would give Post Office Ltd an alternative shutting an underused post office.

He added the number of people reading books in Essex was falling claiming that, by offering other services in libraries, more people might be tempted to take out books.

A spokesman for Post Office Ltd said: “We are committed to rural services and we are looking at new, innovative ways of offering continued access to our products in rural areas.

“The social value communities place on rural post office branches does not translate into financial revenue and the rural network currently runs at a considerable loss of about £140 million a year.”

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