In the House of Commons on Wednesday Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster accused the Conservatives of “vintage hypocrisy” when they proposed a motion to end Post Office closures.
The MP who himself has been fighting for the retention of local Post Offices that have been axed under the Post Office renewal plan told the House that he had serious reservations as to how the Post Office were going about the task but that no-one believed that the Tory motion was more than “political opportunism”.
Under the plan the Post Office are reducing their total numbers from 14,000 offices to 11,500 a reduction of 2,500 and four offices in Hastings and Rye have been affected.
“The Labour Government have been the first to recognise that Post Offices need social subsidy and the £150,000,000 a year (£18,000 per Post Office) that is currently on the table should keep many of these Post Offices open” said the MP. “The Tories are not prepared to even match the current level of investment which over five years will amount to £1.7 billion so how on earth can they propose a “no cuts” agenda with a straight face?”
“If the Tory motion could have saved our local post offices my hand would have been “first up” but I don’t vote for gimmicks.
“Come the debate, the Tories offered no extra cash to support their campaign and voted against the Government’s motion supporting a £1.7b subsidy. Most cynical of all, when pressed, they were not prepared to say whether the “no closure guarantee” was to last a week, a month, or until next Tuesday! Tory spokesman Alan Duncan MP stated “We fully expect the network to shrink in size.”
“You simply cannot treat the public in that way and that’s why I and most of my colleagues were not fooled by the Tories crocodile tears. There is a need to get to grips with Post Office services but there is also a need to be honest with our voters and say how we are going to put promises into action.”
The MP during the debate told the Minister that he still wanted to see the Post Office books as to how they were spending the Government subsidy. “What are the central costs that are so secret that we cannot see the figures” the MP asked the Minister.
Pat McFadden the Post Office Minister in reply told Mr Foster that he had requested the Post Office to provide the MP with the figures he wanted and also claimed that the closures that were proceeding were planned as opposed to the 3,500 offices that closed under the previous Conservative Government which were entirely random.
The Minister also made clear that without the Government subsidy around 4,000 offices only would be commercially profitable. ”
The Tories are being wholly disingenuous,” said the Hastings and Rye MP. “If the Tories had their way without the Government subsidy the network would reduce to 4,000 which means many more closures”. He vowed to continue his fight for retaining local offices and has called on the County Council to step in as has happened in Essex.
“Hastings Town” May 2008
All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.