MP Derek Thomas has welcomed a new post office deal which will give postmasters significantly higher fees for banking transactions but says he is ‘frustrated’ that a temporary, mobile van service, promised six months ago, has still not been rolled out across West Cornwall.
Post Offices Minister Kelly Tolhurst MP says that the new framework, agreed with 28 high street banks, will see postmasters receive double and sometimes treble the current fee for processing a deposit from October.
The Minister also confirmed that the Government was committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the post office network – which includes a contractual commitment on behalf of Post Office Ltd to maintain 11,500 branches with stringent access criteria so that 99% of the population live within three miles of their nearest branch.
Mr Thomas, who launched the West Cornwall Save Our Post Offices campaign last year in response to the closure – or threat of closure – of up to 10 post offices in his constituency, said: “Ensuring that banks are made to pay a fair price to postmasters for the work they do on their behalf was one of the key demands of the Save Our Post Office campaign but that in itself does not guarantee that a small, rural sub-post office will remain viable.
“I have held meetings with the Minister and drummed home to her the need for Government to take a good look at how they can support sub postmasters.
“Increasing the banking fees will certainly help but the Government must also work harder to provide rural post offices with the services that will attract more people into the post office on a daily or weekly basis.
“It is also very frustrating that six months after the Minister herself assured me in Parliament that a mobile van service would soon be visiting villages including Heamoor, Gulval, Carbis Bay, Leedstown, Praa Sands and Crowntown, there still seem to be obstacles in the way of providing a vital and much valued service – the latest delay has been in waiting for a parking licence for the van.”