Policy change too late to save Welwyn Garden City post office

Sir – I write to express my consternation about what is happening – or NOT happening – to our post office network. First, we have the torture arising from the current closure of 2,500 post offices, including three in Welwyn Hatfield, allegedly to bring

Sir - I write to express my consternation about what is happening - or NOT happening - to our post office network.

First, we have the torture arising from the current closure of 2,500 post offices, including three in Welwyn Hatfield, allegedly to bring Post Office Ltd into profit - this process being euphemistically called the "Network Change Programme".

Yes - another change for the worse, which was initiated by the government and actively supported by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters!

A few days ago (The Times, November 3) we were informed by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters that 3,000 MORE post offices will shut as the result of reduced business if the Post Office Card Account contract goes to PayPoint, the private payment network. This will mean that post offices will no longer be able to pay state pensions and other card account services. And that would be a direct result of this government's policies!


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And third - in Citywire, an information service on the internet, I find that under the headline "Are post offices due for a comeback?" it transpires in a leaked letter that the Bounceback Kid, Peter Mandelson, now the Minister for (Monkey?) Business wrote to the Prime Minister calling for post offices to "take on an expanded role, providing key financial services to the UK population".

This has produced the result, announced today (Thursday) to a thoroughly bewildered public, that Post Office Ltd will, after all, be awarded the contract! How much will the Government have to pay out to PayPoint for not proceeding with the tendering process? It is a face-saving measure by a shamed and vacillating government but no details have been announced, such was the hurry with which this measure has been pushed through.

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However, it all comes too late for the Handside Post Office, which certainly closes on Tuesday November 18.

It gets worse - fourth, I hear of a new "Post Office Essentials" facility, providing a basic postal service in Hastings, that has opened just a short distance from where a long-established post office was recently closed down under the infamous "Network Change Programme"!

Given the role of the local post office as a social focus for any community I can only stand and gawp in incandescent wonderment at the huge and wicked incompetence on the part of all concerned at policy level within this government. While they cannot make up their feeble minds, they are pulling in four different directions while elderly and disabled people in local communities all over Britain are being abandoned. They have just discovered that the local post office is a social focus in every community!

Once more, Alice is Blunderland is being re-written - in spades!

I urge all who are concerned in our borough to write to Lord Mandelson and beg him to develop his ideas and put them into action. Demand that he re-opens the Handside post office. The service hatch at the Handside post office will still be there after November 18 when the enforced closure takes place. But we only need a day or two's notice and Ruth Orme and Richard and David Edlin could once again start to provide the valuable service that they have done for the past 30 years.

Please write to: Secretary of State for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, Lord Mandelson, Ministerial Correspondence Unit, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET. Or email enquiries@berr.gsi.gov.uk

Dr Dennis Lewis,

The Links, WGC.

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