Wednesday, 18 November 2015 21:41

Call to support rural post offices

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Call to support rural post offices

POST offices are central to combating social isolation in the countryside, a rural affairs champion has warned.

Councillor Rob Humby, of Hampshire County Council, said more help was needed for rural post offices.

"Post offices in villages all across Hampshire are often at the heart of the local community and really can make all the difference to the survival of a rural community," he said.

"They are, in fact, central to combatting rural social isolation, particularly among the older generation."

    See also: What's going on with rural Post Offices?

Councillor Humby was speaking as the Post Office continues to implement changes to rural post offices as part of its national modernisation programme.

As the council's rural affairs champion, councillor Humby said he was concerned that the status of many smaller, rural post offices was being changed from 'community' to 'local'.

This had the potential to affect the 'core payment' paid by the Post Office which effectively contributes to the viability of the business, as well as its ability to offer other important services, such as some banking transactions.

Councillor Humby said: "We are committed to helping keep Hampshire's rural communities vibrant and thriving."

The local authority had a good track record of working closely with village shops through grants, business advice and support, he added.

This meant it was well placed to work with the Post Office to ensure that "this vital part of rural life" remained strong and financially sustainable.

Councillor Humby said clarity from the Post Office was needed on how a 'local' or 'community' post office was defined.

It should also consider the impact this criteria could have on a whole community, while delivering the government's commitment to secure the future of 3,000 rural branches.

"It is important that Hampshire, large and rural as it is, is not disproportionately affected by a national programme where the impact in other areas would not be so great," he said.

Councillor Humby said he wanted to make the case for Hampshire's rural post offices by inviting senior managers to Hampshire to see how we best "all our goals" could be achieved.

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