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10 June 2008

STEVENSON BACKS CALL TO PROTECT FUTURE OF RURAL POST OFFICES

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed calls demanding the UK
Government ensure that the Post Office is awarded the contract for the successor to the Post Office Card Account, currently out to tender.

Fears have been expressed that if the Post Office does not get the contract there will be another round of substantial post office closures with rural communities once again facing the bulk of the threat.

With the National Federation of Sub Postmasters predicting that around 350 in Scotland alone could be a closed due to the failure to obtain the card account contract Mr Stevenson has been vocal in calling for the UK Government to take action.

Commenting on Mr Stevenson said:

"We need to take a long term approach to protecting our rural post offices which as we are all aware are under a rising threat of closure. By calling on the Westminster Government to award the Post Office this contract we are taking a preventative step to prevent the future risk of post office closures.

“The tender currently only specifies that the successful bidder must have a network of at least 10,000 outlets, but there is no requirement for there to be a significant number of rural outlets. Only the Post Office has enough outlets to be able to offer a service covering both urban and rural areas.

"The current Post Office Card Account is the only financial service available in many of our rural areas and is also vital income for many sub post offices. If the Post Office were to loose this contract it would be the death knell of many more sub post offices and we would face yet another round of savage cuts.

"The UK Government were directly responsible for the current mess by removing benefit and pension payments from the Post Office. The Card account was an attempt to arrest that decline and if it was now to go it would spell disaster.

“We have been campaigning hard against the current wave of postal closures and will continue to work at a number of levels to protect the future viability of our rural communities who rely on the services provided by Post Office.”
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