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Council Set Out Concerns on Post Office Closure Consultation

8th February 2008

The Highland Council has highlighted a number of concerns in its draft response to Post Office Ltd's consultation on post office closures across the UK. The response will be considered by councillors at a special meeting of the full Council on Thursday 14 February.

Post Office Ltd intends to close 29 post offices across Highland. It is proposed that two of these will be relocated at other businesses within the community and that at a further nine offices proposed for closure there will be replacement services provided.

The Council is extremely disappointed that the UK Government has set a target for the number of closures across the UK which means that if any post office in the region is saved, another will need to close.

The Council can only respond to the proposals on the following grounds:

~ Technicalities - if Post Office Ltd has not applied the Government's criteria properly.

~ Unacceptable socio-economic consequences - if any group within the community will be adversely affected by the closure.

Comments on these areas are made for each of the 29 offices identified for closure.

The draft response also highlights concerns the Council has about:

~ the consultation process;
~ the development process of the plan;
~ the application of the access criteria;
~ the sustainability of the post office network;
~ Disregarding deprived communities.

The Highland Council Convener, Councillor Sandy Park said: "The Council is particularly concerned that Post Office Ltd has not taken into account the way in which deprivation is measured in Scotland when identifying post offices for closure. The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation has not been applied properly in the region. One of our most vulnerable communities which is a regeneration area, Pulteneytown in Wick, would lose their post office if these proposals go ahead. This is completely unacceptable and the draft response reflects this concern."

The Council has had a member/officer Working Group overseeing the preparation of the Council's response and the lead up to the Plan. Councillor Peter Cairns is the group's chairman. He said: "The Council has been trying to encourage our communities to respond to the consultation and let their feelings on the closure proposals be heard. We have facilitated a number of public meetings across Highland which Post Office Ltd have attended and been able to hear the feelings of the community.

"The public response at these meetings has been excellent and it really is a credit to the communities affected that they have come out in force to make there feelings known. I would continue to urge all those concerned who have not yet responded to do so."

The Council will finalise its response at the meeting on Thursday but urges communities affected that they too still have time to respond to the consultation.

The closing date for responses is Monday 18th February. Anyone wishing to respond, highlighting how the closures will affect them, should send comments to:

Sally Buchanan
Network Development Manager
c/o National Consultation Team
Freepost Consultation Team

consultation[AT]postoffice.co.uk

The Council has set up a discussion forum on its website and will forward the comments received to Post Office Ltd.
http://thc.highlandlife.net/post_office_consultation

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