Currently, ten rural post offices in West Cornwall have either closed or are at risk of closure, including the offices on the Lizard, at Porthleven, Carbis Bay, Leedstown, Heamoor, St Keverne and Newlyn.
Mr Thomas believes it is essential to protect rural post office branches by making sure postmasters have a viable and sustainable business – the post office plays a vital role in local communities and their sustainability is even more vital at a time when many high street banks are closing.
May 2016: Mullion public meeting to discuss possible relocation of the Post Office to the Chocolate Factory.
May 2016: Derek joins campaign to try to save Penzance’s Crown Post Office and meets Sajid Javid MP, then the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
April 2017: Lizard post office public meeting at Lizard FC involving Stewart Taylor and Lewis Horn from Post Office Ltd. The current postmasters wish to retire but no suitable venue for the office can be found.
Derek also holds discussions with the postmasters in Porthleven and Leedstown about their futures.
December 2017: Derek seeks information from Post Office Ltd following concerns over the future of branches at Mullion, St Keverne and The Lizard.
December 2017: The post office at Heamoor closes.
20th December, 2017: Following consistent lobbying from Derek and other MPs representing rural constituencies, the Government announces £160 million will help to protect ‘last shop in the village’ community branches and ensure everyone continues to have access to their local branch.
26th April, 2018: Newlyn - More than a 100 people attended a public meeting arranged by Derek and Cllr Roger Harding – also attending were Stuart Taylor and Lewis Horn.
11th September, 2018: Derek joins the newly-formed Post Office Parliamentary Group, which seeks to “raise awareness of the important economic and social contribution post offices and post masters make, to ensure their position as a vital public service and to provide input into the areas of public policy which affect the post office”.
October 2018: With post offices on the Lizard, at Porthleven, Carbis Bay, Leedstown, Heamoor, St Keverne and Newlyn all either shut or at risk of closure, Derek launches Save Our Post Office campaign, sending out petition cards to residents in the areas affected.
July, 2019: After a persistent campaign over many months, Derek has welcomed the announcement of a mobile post office that will visit communities across West Cornwall currently without a service. However he was less enthusiastic about the resultant reduction of a service to Newlyn was like ‘shuffling deckchairs’.
From Monday, 15th July, Gulval, Connor Downs and Leedstown started to receive a permanent mobile service while Heamoor, Carbis Bay, Constantine, Praa Sands and Porthleven were being served on a temporary service while Post Office Ltd continued to seek a permanent solution in these villages. Newlyn’s Tuesday and Thursday morning post office service is axed, leaving just an afternoon service on these two afternoons. Derek says this was a “retrograde step for people in Newlyn” and said he would press on Post Office Ltd to look at this again.
August 2019: With the support of Cllr Roger Harding and a dedicated group, A Post Office For Newlyn, Derek increases the pressure on Post Office Ltd to ensure that there is a permanent post office in Newlyn at the earliest opportunity.
Together they plan the launch of the A Post Office For Newlyn campaign with an A5 petition seeking support for their demands, which include a permanent post office in Newlyn in the longer term and the reinstatement of a full two-day mobile service while legal difficulties are ironed out.
Alongside this, Derek continues to press Post Office Ltd to accelerate the work to restore a permanent post office branch in other parts of our communities including Porthleven and Carbis Bay.
November 2018: Letter sent out to all those (more than 1,000) who responded to the Post Office campaign.
13th December, 2018: Following a speech by Derek in Parliament, Post Offices Minister Kelly Tolhurst MP announced that there would be an extension of the mobile post office service in West Cornwall to include Heamoor, Gulval, Carbis Bay, Leedstown, Praa Sands and Crowntown and also pledged that greater efforts would be made to ensure that rural sub-postmasters have a viable business. The Minister also agreed to discuss the situation further with Derek early in 2019.
14th January, 2019: With representatives from the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters (NFSP), Derek meets the Post Offices Minister and is promised further support. “The meeting was very positive – the Minister clearly recognises that rural post offices are under threat and indeed admitted that there are similar issues with post office closures in her own constituency of Rochester in Kent."
12th March, 2019: The mobile PO van used to provide services in Newlyn is moved from Mullion to a new overnight location in the Penzance area.
12th February, 2019: Hearing that Kelly Tolhurst is planning to visit the Torbay constituency, Derek urges the Minister, in the Chamber, to include West Cornwall in her itinerary.