North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson has arranged a series of meetings over the next two days for local people to question the Post Office and Post Watch about plans to close 22 post office services in North Cornwall including 11 in and around Launceston.
The meeting was well attended given the short notice and the difficult timing (the Post Office people wanted it at 5.30). This was particularly the case with people from the village of Altarnun who had previously been subjected to a mobile service so awful that a new service was provided in the village hall with a community shop.
I have to say that the Post Office people did not inspire confidence. One kept silent throughout and the other kept reiterating what had happened in his part of the world - Northern Ireland. During the course of the meeting he kept on reiterating that their ideal solution for Altarnun is a partner facility (ie a post office counter in another shop). The only trouble is that the only other shop in the village is a butchers which cannot be used.
He also claimed that Post Office had walked the entire area around threatened offices yet all his comments seemed to show that they knew nothing of the local area.
One of the problems with the current mobile service operated out of Tavistock and serving many villages around Launceston is that the card reader in the van does not work and so people cannot use it to pay bills or to withdraw pensions and so on. So, not surprisingly, people do not use it as it doesn't provide the service they need. Despite this failing on their part, they are still basing proposals to wothdraw this mobile service on the lack of footfall in the van.
The consultation period itself is a big issue. Despite a Cabinet agreement that it should be for three months, Post Office Ltd have decreed that it be for just 6 weeks over the tourist season. They are asking not for objections but for proposals for alternative arrangements. How are people meant to come up with these in such a limited time (especially when they won't give financial details to judge whether an alternative might be viable).
This was a deeply frustrating meeting which seemed to convince most people that the 'proposals' are in fact a foregone conclusion and that Post Office Ltd are no prepared to consider alternatives.
Pics: Dan Rogerson with the Altarnun protestors before the meeting; Dan looks unimpressed by the man from Northern Ireland; A woman from Altarnun makes her point silently; A resident at the meeting; Dan summing up.