Monday, 23 June 2008

From Llanboidy to Trelech

Another big turnout from the local community on Friday night, this time in Trelech, another village whose post office is earmarked for closure. The community centre was packed as people made their views known on the post office's plans. In the case of Trelech, it seems beyond doubt that, if the post office goes, so will the only shop in the village, which will become unsustainable without the post office salary.

Our local MP was there, ready to help the village oppose the closure. But hold on, isn't it his government that's behind the closures? His line is an interesting one, outlined in Llanboidy a week ago and repeated in Trelech. He fully supports the plans of the government to make the post office a viable business, and to oblige the post office to close 2,500 offices. But the post office have got it wrong by picking the wrong ones, so it's their fault, not the government's. Used for one post office in one village, it might be credible; applied to every village where there is a campaign to keep the post office open, it starts to look a bit like "I'm in favour of closing post offices, as long as they're in someone else's constituency".

The point is that we face a very simple choice. As long as politicians and governments are wedded to the idea that the post office must become a viable, profitable business as though it were in the private sector, then closures are inevitable. The debate we're having in village after village is purely about which offices will be sacrificed to achieve that. The debate we should be having is whether the post office is also providing an essential service for which we should be willing to contribute from our taxes. That would be a much more meaningful discussion.

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