The Government has today announced which post office services it wants to close in the North Cornwall area. Shockingly, there are 22 planned for cuts. Of these, 11 will be in the Launceston area.
The branch at Newport in Launceston will close completely. The Post Office at Tregadillett will close and be replaced with a mobile service. The services for Coads Green, Yeolmbridge, Lawhitton, North Petherwin, Egloskerry and Altarnun will also be cut as will many more used by local people.
Since Labour took office in 1997, 4000 Post Office Branches have been closed. Before that, the Conservatives closed 3500.
Many of these services are all that remains of a thriving village life. The Post Office at Altarnun is housed in the village hall following a previous round of cuts. Further closures will cause severe hardship for many people living in rural communities - especially those without cars who will have to rely on very infrequent bus services.
Even the urban branch proposed for closure - at Newport - will cause significant difficulties for many people. Launceston is built on a very steep hill and the Newport branch serves the half of town situated at the bottom of the hill. For anyone with mobility problems, the journey to the main office in town will be a daunting task.
Laughably, one of the options being proposed by the Government is an 'on demand' service. If enough people ring up to ask for a mobile post office then one will come along. Just how do they expect that to work and how can people who need a post office possibly rely on such a service?
Dan Rogerson and the Liberal Democrats are leading the campaign to save these branches. Dan has organised meetings in the centre of the three major areas affected - Bude, Launceston and Wadebridge - for later this month to rally support for the campaign. In addition, the Lib Dems are organising petitions and letter writing campaigns to seek to persuade the Government that local people need these services. To some this may seem like a lost cause. But such campaigns have saved post office branches in other parts of the country and we won't give up hope.
The picture shows local councillors Adam Paynter, Mike Nicholls and Jackie Ellis-Martin with North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson outside the threatened branch at Newport.