Devon post offices earmarked for closure

PUBLISHED: 15:34 19 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:50 15 June 2010

DEVON County Council has reacted swiftly to news of up to 33 post offices facing closure or changes.

DEVON County Council has reacted swiftly to news of up to 33 post offices facing closure or changes.

Responding to a 'leaked' list of proposed post office closures across Devon, Devon County Council's Executive Member for Communities, Cllr Brian Berman, has said: "If the list is accurate, we are looking at 33 possible closures or changes in service across the county, excluding Plymouth and Torbay.

"We will need to wait until the official start of the consultation tomorrow (Tuesday) before we can be sure, but the list leaked gives us an idea of which post offices we are likely to be concentrating on."

Post Office Limited (POL) has not confirmed the accuracy of the list, which appeared in the Western Morning News, saying: "We can understand and sympathise with the concerns of both individuals and local organisations over the future of Post Office branches in Devon. However, the formal public consultation process does not commence until Tuesday, May 20,after which opinion formers, local groups and customers will be able to put forward their views and concerns.

"In the meantime, we will not speculate on the detail of the plan."

Devon County Council has previously expressed concern about the impact of the closures on local communities, and will be responding to the consultation before the six-week deadline.

Once the council receives the official list, they will invite postmasters of the services affected to contact them, so that they can work with the postmasters to assess the impact of the POL proposals. The county council will also work closely with parish councils in the areas affected to see how closure could affect those local communities.

The council will be setting up a telephone helpline for postmasters facing closure who want to continue in business, or who wish to close but feel that there is a need for post office services within their community.

After gathering all the facts, the council may in some cases provide financial support to help sustain post office services, although such support could not be considered a long term measure.

As a priority, the county council would like to see post office services retained or enhanced:

* In areas where growth in the size of communities is planned or likely

* Where there are high levels of deprivation and where the loss of a post office could further disadvantage vulnerable people

* Where the closure would threaten the viability of the only shop in the community, an associated business or other local businesses

* Where closure will lead to a significant increase in road journeys to access post office services.

Councillor Brian Berman, the Council's Executive Member for Communities, said: "We will start consulting with parish councils and working individually with the postmasters of the services affected before deciding how best to respond to the consultation.

"Naturally we do not want communities to be adversely affected, and this is especially the case where post offices are the only shop in those communities.

"Over coming weeks we will work with postmasters to assess and understand those businesses better before recommending a programme of support.

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