Gavin Strang, Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East, has spelled out in the House of Commons the importance of local Post Office branches in Edinburgh.
News is expected later this summer from the Post Office on a new round of branch closures.
Dr Strang told the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, Pat McFadden MP, that a worrying aspect of the previous round of closures was that less well-off areas were hardest hit. Edinburgh – not least Gavin Strang’s own Edinburgh East constituency – had ‘had quite a hammering’, the MP said.
The exchanges took place in the recent Oral Parliamentary Questions with Ministers from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Speaking in Westminster today, Gavin Strang MP said:
‘When a local Post Office is closed, it is very often the least well off in our society who lose out. Furthermore, it has all too often been the branches in the hardest-off areas that are earmarked for closure.
‘Like any service, the Post Office network needs to continue to adapt to the needs of 21st century Britain. But local branches have a vital role in our communities, and the Post Office has a duty to maintain a network that is up to the job.’
A transcript of the exchanges in the House of Commons on 3 July follows:
Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that a worrying aspect of the last closure programme was that, no doubt for business reasons, a disproportionate number of the closures were in working class areas, often in major cities and near former council schemes, some of which had a high proportion of elderly people? As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) said, we do not have the Edinburgh proposals yet, but is there any prospect that that will not happen this time around? We had quite a hammering last time, not least in Edinburgh, East.
Mr. McFadden: My right hon. Friend makes a fair point about the importance of the post office network to people on lower incomes, and that is why this Government have put so much public funding into supporting it. The network faces major changes in how people do business, but we are supporting it with up to £1.7 billion over the next few years. Without that public support and strong commitment from the Government, thousands more branches would be under threat. We have put that support in place precisely because we appreciate the value of the network to the constituents whom my right hon. Friend mentions.