Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Post Office closures

Sitting in the public gallery of the council chamber this afternoon, I thought that the scrutiny committee debate on post office closures within the county borough was like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark - or, perhaps, the Scottish play without the Thane of Cawdor, since we are talking villains here.

The Labour councillors could hardly attack their own government, so they laid into Post Office Ltd for the closure programme. The sub-postmasters' representative was unequivocal about where blame lay: the loss of government business. Most of his members couldn't make a living from post office business alone, and some were even subsidising the latter from their savings. The Post Office people, for their part, emphasised that government demanded that the business be not only made viable by the end of the decade, but that it also start showing a return on capital then.

It was clear where the sympathies of at least one of the PO reps lay, as he actually sought good evidence which would justify removing sub post offices from the closure list. Earlier, his colleague had presented a slide-show which stressed Post Office Ltd's flexibility in entertaining various models of service to replace fixed, wholly-owned, buildings with their overhead costs.

Hanging over the discussions was the future of the Post Office Card Account. There will be a replacement in 2010, but Post Office Ltd. is only one of the bodies tendering for the right to sponsor it.

It is hard to see how another organisation can provide both the security and the breadth of outlets which the Post Office does. If this decision goes against them, it is yet more confirmation that Gordon Brown's government is as dominated by Friedmann-Hayek "economic liberalism" as ever Mrs Thatcher was.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While not about POs; I was interested to read the item written by Peter Hargreaves of Hargreaves Lansdon Stockbrokers regarding Gordon Brown's running of the country and the economy in the latest edition of their magazine. Specific references to the way that this government sold half the gold reserve when the country did have financial reserves and gold was cheap as chips, during the 10 years of relatively "good times" he and his chancellor haven't put anything away for the rainy days which lie ahead, going along the PFI route, which is a abomination thought up by the Grey man of British Politics John Major.

The storm clouds are a gathering.