Derek Thomas (St Ives)
9. What steps he is taking to ensure that people can access post office services in rural areas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kelly Tolhurst)
The Government absolutely recognise the importance of post offices to rural communities across the UK. There are over 11,500 post offices nationwide, and Government subsidy safeguards post offices, which can be the last shop in the village, so that they can continue to serve their communities. The Post Office delivered almost £10 million of investment via the community fund between 2014 and 2018 to facilitate rural community branches to invest in their retail businesses.
I thank the Minister for her response but, unfortunately, there is one fewer post office today, as Porthleven post office in west Cornwall closes. Six months ago, the Minister said from the Dispatch Box that, guided by the Post Office, a mobile service will be available in west Cornwall to deal with the nine post offices that have so far closed and are now no longer available. Can she please tell me when we will get that mobile service so that people can once again access post office services?
I thank my hon. Friend, who has long been a campaigner for post offices in his region. It is true that west Cornwall communities have been unduly inconvenienced, and he is right that the Post Office is now waiting for Cornwall Council to issue a formal permit to formalise the agreement. I have been assured that, due to the closure of Porthleven post office this morning, there will be a weekly mobile service in place very shortly. I just want to highlight that, with such a diverse network in many different locations and settings, it is true that some post offices will close due to unforeseen circumstances and lots of other reasons. It is important that the Post Office keeps up with that challenge to make sure our communities are well served.