Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Committee

15 January 2008


BERR COMMITTEE TO TAKE EVIDENCE ON PROGRESS OF POST OFFICE CLOSURE PROGRAMME

The Business & Enterprise Committee today announces two oral evidence sessions as part of its inquiry into early experiences of the Post Office’s ‘Network Change Programme’, which will see around 2,500 outlets close.

Date/Time:  Tuesday 29th January at 10.30am
Witnesses: National Federation of Sub-Postmasters
(from around 11.30am) Postwatch

Date/Time:  Tuesday 5th February at 10.30am
Witnesses:Post Office Ltd
(from around 11.30am) Pat McFadden MP (Minister for Employment Relations & Postal Services, BERR)

Those wishing to attend the meeting should check the venue by contacting the House of Commons Public Information Office on 020 7219 4272 on the day before the hearing.

The Programme began on 2 October 2007 and will continue until around October 2008.  To date 14 out of 41 local area plans have been published.  Of these, 10 local consultations have now closed, with final decision announced for six plans: Kent, the East Midlands, East Yorkshire with Bassetlaw and North Lincolnshire, East Essex and Suffolk, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Greater Glasgow, Central Scotland, Argyll and Bute.  These six areas will see a total of 321 branches close, with a possible 15 more, which were selected instead of proposed closures after consultation, to follow (together these closures would mean a reduction in the size of the Post Office network across these areas of around 15%).

This is therefore an opportune moment to explore in detail the early experience of the areas affected so far.

During the evidence sessions, the Committee is likely to focus on:

• experiences of the local consultation process so far;

• the extent to which the Post Office’s final decisions have taken local views into account

• the details of the proposed 500 ‘Outreach’ services and service quality;

• the role of Postwatch in the Programme, and in monitoring the network in the future;

• how changes to the Crown post office network interact with sub-post office closures; and

• the future of both Crown and sub-post office networks.

Further Information:
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), www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmtrdind/276/276.pdf;

• 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, www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmtrdind/593/593.pdf;

• Trade and Industry Committee, Seventh Special Report of Session 2006-07, The Government’s response to Restructuring the Post Office Network (October 2007); www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmtrdind/1083/1083.pdf

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 www.postoffice.co.uk/networkchange.

Media Enquiries: Laura Humble, Tel 0207 219 2003/07917 488 489, email: [email protected]

Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 5777, email: [email protected]