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Europe is the wrong target for Post Office anger

LIKE many others I am campaigning vigorously against the Labour's plans to close up to 2,500 post offices nationwide - which may include up to 26 more branches in Birmingham.

LIKE many others I am campaigning vigorously against the Labour's plans to close up to 2,500 post offices nationwide - which may include up to 26 more branches in Birmingham.

What detracts from any campaign to save individual branches, however, are ludicrous accusations from politicians purporting to be against the closures, whose only line is that it is 'all the EU's fault'. These claims are not only misleading, but let the government off the hook.

There is no EU legislation telling the UK to close post offices or how many post offices it can have. The EU's postal reform legislation is designed to liberalise the market, opening it up to greater competition and the UK opened its market fully to competition in 2006.

The EU has not issued a diktat for these successive rounds of branch post office closures, which started under the last Conservative government - long before EU-wide postal reform rules took effect.

Post office closures have happened in EU member states where there is only a single postal provider and also in others where the market has been fully liberalised, so it is up to postal operators and governments to ensure that their services survive.

The reason why UK post office finances are struggling is the decision by successive governments to remove a huge range of services from branches, from benefit payments to TV licences. Post offices have been classed as an essential social service by the European Union and can be supported financially if governments choose to do so.

Alone among major parties, the Liberal Democrats have a £2bn costed plan to revive the post office network, which complies in full with EU legislation.

Liz Lynne, Liberal Democrat MEP for the West Midlands

 

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