In rural villages many people, particularly the elderly rely on having certain amenities within the village. One of the most important of these is certainly a Post Office. In recent months we have sadly seen rural village Post Offices close in places such as Newick, East Dean and Alfriston.
These closures were not planned by the Post Office but came about suddenly leaving these communities without the much needed services that a Post Office provides. These services are much more than just sending post as often the Post Office will often be the last place that people can withdraw cash or access their bank account without lengthy journeys into nearby towns or cities.
One resident who has taken part in a survey on East Dean Post Office has told me that she is able to drive into Eastbourne to access the Post Office but many of her elderly neighbours are not able to and will struggle to get the bus into town and back again.
This is why I am working hard to have some sort of postal service reinstated in these villages. In some areas across the country we have seen villages being innovative in how they operate a Post Office. Rather than having a traditional Post Office we have seen examples of these services being run part time out of pubs, village halls or an existing village shop. If possible in each village these are things that should seriously be considered.
However the main focus should always be to try and have the original Post Office reinstated. The closures where not planned and are not what is wanted by the Post Office management. I am working with them to see the services open again, and have raised the issue with Government Ministers who have confirmed that the Post Office is working hard to reopen the Post Offices.
I have called for the per-transaction model of funding for the Post Office to be changed for rural areas where, although the service is vital to residents, it does not see a high level of transactions due to the rural nature. This would encourage more people to want to take on the running of rural Post Offices on a stronger financial footing.
I will continue to work for local residents to see their Post Offices restored and will keep them up to date on this work.