Mel Stride MP met with the South West’s representative on the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) Stuart Rogers on Saturday (24/08/19) to discuss the future of the post office network within his constituency. The MP has the third most post offices branches of any of the 650 constituencies in the UK and one of his top priorities as an MP has been to help keep as many branches open as possible. Mel's efforts have included establishing a local forum, believed to be a UK first, where representatives from local branches shared ideas and best practice as well as organising for Mr Rogers to meet the Post Office minister and the Banking Minister in Westminster. The latter meeting was used to raise the issue of banks not doing enough to inform their customers of the banking services available at post offices when a local bank closes.
After their meeting Mel said:
“Keeping our post offices open is certainly challenging given the ever-growing competition from online retailers but they remain vital for many people – often older, often living in rural communities where their post office is also the only shop, often isolated with little or no access to public transport. They are also vital for businesses who have a post office branch far closer than their nearest bank. But there is cause for optimism with the Post Office now the largest UK retail network to open on a Sunday and £370million of Government investment between 2017 and 2021 helping to modernise the network and deliver hundreds of thousands of additional opening hours every week. But the old adage has never been more true – if we want to keep our post offices, we need to use them or we will lose them.”
Prior to entering Parliament in 2010 Mel collected 14,000 signatures for a petition against the last Labour Government’s post office closure programme which saw more than 7,300 post offices close across the country. Since March 2010, around 400 Post Offices have closed their doors, meaning that the network has stabilised at around 11,500 branches.