Thursday, 26 June 2008

Another day, another post office

On to Talog last night for another extremely well-attended meeting. Talog is another small village facing the loss of its post office. Taking the post office closure proposals as a whole locally (Llanboidy, Trelech, Talog, Blaenwaun), there's a huge sweep of the northern part of this constituency which will be left with no fixed post offices at all, just a travelling van.

We had the usual speech from the local MP about how he supports the plans and processes in principle, but the post office have got this particular one wrong. I now have a collection of three near-identical leaflets from him explaining why it's wrong to close _____ post office, and in all of them he claims that the post office is "forgetting the most important factor ( the future of ___ Post Office...) - the wishes of local people".

Er, no, Nick. Not the post office – your government told them the criteria to use, and that wasn't one of them. The post office isn't allowed to take people's wishes into account – if it were they would never achieve the government-imposed target of around 2,500 closures, because no community 'wishes' its post office to close. Neither was the impact of the changes on the environment one of the factors involved – particularly the extra travelling that people will have to do.

Ultimately, that's why this whole consultation process is badly flawed – because the consultation isn't about the programme, or the decisions already taken on which that programme is based, or the criteria used to make those decisions. It's limited to which post offices should close, with the inherent danger that we end up pitting communities against each other instead of making common cause against a bad government decision.

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