Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/527/3964
"Halve your expenses and save our post offices"
SAVE OUR Post Offices (SOPO) campaigners have scored a first-stage victory by forcing Gloucestershire county council (GCC) to consider an 'Essex type' rescue plan for the 27 post offices facing closure in the county.
Chris Moore, Save Our Post Offices campaign
Part of the pressure that forced GCC to respond was lobbying with the message to county councillors, 'halve your expenses and save our post offices.' Around the county, protests have erupted outside post offices with large demonstrations in Stroud and Cirencester combined with e-mail bombardment of county councillors.
Essex county council have taken the Post Office Ltd franchise for their 32 closed post offices and aim to reopen 15 of them by pumping in £500,000 a year over three years and then running them as break-even businesses.
Post Office closures are part of the government and Post Office Ltd's national programme, linked to their drive to bring big business interests into the postal system.
Although the Essex plan uses public funding, it is still linked to a business model. It could mean post office closures being implemented in future at county level, but it offers an immediate alternative to the national plans and gives protesters more time to build united opposition.
Council leader Barry Dare initially said GCC did not have resources to even consider an Essex-type rescue. SOPO highlighted that county councillors take £817,000 expenses between them a year with the leader on £37,000. Also the council aims to have between £12.5 and £18 million reserves, simply taking the lower figure would free up funds. Eventually the Tories were forced to backtrack, but the council have only agreed to investigate a plan.
SOPO is now demanding to know what resources will be made available. But we won't bother contacting Gloucester Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda. After supporting campaigns to keep local post offices open, he voted against the parliamentary motion to halt national closures.
The front page of the local paper screamed 'MP has stabbed us in the back.' It will be the pressure of campaigners around the country that can save our post offices not hollow words from careerist politicians.
- No more post office closures
- The Post Office to be run as a public service under democratic control
- Community campaigners, trade unionists, environmentalists and socialists unite to launch a new workers' party.
In The Socialist 2 April 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review