Post office defends its plans

IN last week’s Galloway Gazette, elected members expressed their concern at the announcment that the Post Office was planning to downgrade services in 2,000 branches from 2014.

They feared that this was the harbinger of further closures of rural branches or at the very least the loss of vitla services in remore rural areas.

But, this week, a Post Office Ltd spokeswoman said: “No further Post Office closure programme is planned. In fact, the Post Office is planning to transform its network of branches across the UK over the next three years as part of a £1.34billion investment programme. The investment will provide a more modern and convenient retail network with longer opening hours for customers and a more sustainable business model for subpostmasters.

“The new branch formats, which includes a “Local” model, are currently being piloted so that we can learn directly from our customers and agents how the new model meets the need of the communities we serve. Far from being a lesser service offer, the Local model is already proving popular with customers in pilot areas. Initial research shows that 96 per cent of customers using these branches are very satisfied with the new service. Customers are also benefiting from more convenient and longer opening hours – up to an 80 per cent increase in some cases - with branches open late into the evening and across the weekend. Our subpostmaster agents participating in the pilots are reporting an upturn in their Post Office business due to the longer opening hours offered and the more flexible format.”