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Final move to save post offices fails
NEW Forest MP Desmond Swayne this week attacked moves to close down rural post offices and called for them to become a "one stop shop" for Government services, or for a mobile service to be provided to isolated villages.
New Forest MP Desmond Swayne
Mr Swayne hit out after a last ditch attempt to save the post offices was defeated in Parliament.
A Tory motion demanding Post Office bosses "suspend" the Government's programme to axe up to 2,500 branches across the UK - including Whitsbury, Ashley, New Milton, Tiptoe and Emery Down near Lyndhurst, along with about 60 others across the county - was rejected in the Commons by a majority of just 20 votes.
Mr Swayne maintains the Government's own actions in moving business such as pensions, benefits and road tax elsewhere have made many post offices economically unviable and as people can no longer get a TV licence or TV stamps at a post office any more, many were losing trade in other items such as groceries.
"The whole process has been wrong-headed from the start," he said.
The Government has said it will close post offices that don't make money, but it is the Government that took that business away from them. Post offices could be a shop front for all sorts of Government services. We could make so many of them viable rather than closing them down.
"We have a mobile library service in Hampshire so why can't the villages receive a mobile service rather than being cut off from the service altogether."
The Tory motion was supported by the Lib Dems but opposed by most Labour MPs even though many of them - including Southampton's John Denham and Alan Whitehead - have campaigned against closures in their constituencies.
Labour MPs were accused by Tory Post Offices spokesman Charles Hendry of a "betrayal of the most vulnerable people in their constituencies that will haunt them for the rest of their careers".
Tim Nickolls, the Post Office's development manager for Hampshire, said: "These are difficult decisions that have not been taken lightly.
"We have considered very carefully all the comments made during the public consultation. We believe that the amended plan offers our customers the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future."