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More Solihull Post Office closures feared

Campaigners fear one in four key Solihull post offices could be forced to close if a vital £200 million government contract is lost

Campaigners fear one in four key Solihull post offices could be forced to close if a vital £200 million government contract is lost.

Councillor Mike Sheridan (Green Party, Smith's Wood) says post offices in the north of the borough and in rural parts of Solihull, where a large proportion of benefit claimants and elderly people live, could shut up shop for good if the successor to the Post Office Card Account (POCA) is awarded to newsagents or other retail outlets.

"Every Post Office closure so far has ripped the heart out of each community falling victim," said Cllr Sheridan.

"To award the benefits contract to the Post Office would allow the branches across our area to continue to compete. It is often the most vulnerable people in society such as the elderly and those without their own car who most need access to a local post office branch."

"I urge the Government to prioritise the Post Office as an essential service for all in our community. Awarding the Post Office this £200 million contract is the best way to do this."

Solihull MP Lorely Burt is also backing the campaign and has signed an early day motion in Parliament supporting the move.

She claims 25 per cent of the business undertaken by the Post Office is generated from the POCA with almost four million customers receiving their benefits and pensions at their local post office counters. She believes another bidder, PayPoint, is likely to be awarded the contract.

Mrs Burt said: "This will be a second hammer blow for the post office network following recent forced closures. Without this income thousands more branches across the country could close. Many older customers do not have a basic bank account and would not find PayPoint helpful or convenient."

"Giving the contract to PayPoint could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for ever more local post offices."

Only last month four post offices in Olton, Catherine-de-Barnes, Shirley and Berkswell closed for business as part of a nationwide closure programme of branches across the country to save millions of pounds.

Jaquie Stenson, a spokesman for Post Office Limited, said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment at the moment."

She added the company had put in a bid via the tender process for the contract and was awaiting an announcement from the Government in the next few weeks.

 

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