5 December 2007
MPs LAUNCH INQUIRY INTO POST OFFICE CLOSURE PROGRAMME
Committee calls for evidence
The Business & Enterprise Committee today announces a new inquiry into early experiences of the Post Office’s ‘Network Change Programme’ for restructuring the sub-post office network. It will also look at the implications of the changes to the Crown post office network and the transfer of many such offices to retail outlets, such as branches of WH Smith.
The Trade & Industry Committee (which this Committee recently replaced) examined the Government’s proposed framework for a new round of post office closures in two reports earlier this year. These reports persuaded the Government to refine the access criteria and their application. The Committee will now look at how the process is being carried out in practice.
The next phase of the so-called ‘Network Change Programme’ began on 2 October. So far 11 local area plans have been issued, and six consultations on these plans have now closed. Nationally, local plan consultations will continue until October 2008. The first final closure decisions, for Kent, are due to be released tomorrow (Thursday 6 December), and by the end of January final closure decisions will have been made in 9 areas. A further 7 areas will be at either the consultation stage or awaiting final decisions. This is therefore an opportune moment to explore in detail the early experience of those areas affected by local consultations.
The Committee intends to focus on:
experience of the local consultation process so far;
the extent to which final decisions have taken local views into account;
the nature of the proposed 500 ‘Outreach’ services and service quality;
the role of Postwatch in the current Programme and in the future;
how changes to the Crown post office network interact with sub-post office closures;
the future of both Crown and sub-post office networks.
Individual post office closure proposals are outside the scope of this inquiry: almost 600 closures have been announced so far, which would overwhelm the Committee. Specific examples will only be considered where these contradict the terms of the Government’s framework for the restructuring programme. The Committee also intends to consult MPs for those constituencies that have already been affected by local consultations and final closures decisions so far.
The Committee invites brief written submissions. These should be sent, as an MS Word document, by e-mail to [email protected] with a single hard copy sent to the Clerk of the Committee at the address above by 5.00pm on 10 January 2008.
As a consequence of machinery of government changes announced in June 2007, the Department for Trade and Industry ceased to exist and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform was created. Following this decision, the Trade and Industry Committee was dissolved and a successor committee has been created, with the following membership:
Chairman: Peter Luff MP (Con) (Mid Worcestershire)
Mr Adrian Bailey (Lab) (West Bromwich West)
Roger Berry (Lab) (Kingswood)
Mr Brian Binley (Con) (Northampton South)
Mr Michael Clapham (Lab) (Barnsley West and Pen.)
Mr Lindsay Hoyle (Lab) (Chorley)
Mark Hunter (Lib Dem) (Cheadle)
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Con) (Bromsgrove)
Anne Moffat (Lab) (East Lothian)
Mr Mike Weir (SNP) (Angus)
Mr Anthony Wright (Lab) (Great Yarmouth)
Relevant publications & links
Trade and Industry Committee, Third Report of Session 2006-07, Stamp of Approval? Restructuring the Post Office Network (April 2007),
Trade and Industry Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2006-07,, Restructuring the Post Office Network (June 2007) - incorporating the Government response to the Third Report,
Trade and Industry Committee, Seventh Special Report of Session 2006-07, The Government’s response to Restructuring the Post Office Network (October 2007);
Also, the Government’s national consultation response (May 2007) is at
www.berr.gov.uk/files/file39479.pdf; the original consultation paper is at www.berr.gov.uk/files/file36025.pdf.
The Post Office’s network change programme page is at
Media Enquiries: Laura Humble, Tel 0207 219 2003/ 07917 488 489, email: [email protected]
Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 5777, email: [email protected]