Tag: mail

Partners in hypocrisy

Just a day after Mr Wills’ hypocritical outburst over post office closures, Ms Snelgrove has been talking on the very same subject in parliament. Did she take the opportunity to express concern over the closure of post offices in Swindon, or to express surprise that, despite representations to the ‘consultation’, all the Post Office’s closure plans in this area remained unchanged? Of course not. Instead she chose to repeat Mr Willsattack on the local council.

I share concerns about the consultation process, but does he share my anger about the fact that Tory-controlled Swindon borough council has not taken part in the consultation exercise, and did not attend any of the meetings held by Postwatch or the Post Office? The Conservatives in Swindon are now jumping on the bandwagon, but have made no representations to the Post Office or to Postwatch about the closures in my constituency.

And just what did Ms Snelgrove do for the post offices in her constituency, apart from having her photo taken in one of the doomed post offices? Although she sent out a letter inviting people to sign a petition against the closures, she has, since then, been remarkably silent on the subject. Clearly, she’s far more keen to attack the opposition than do anything for her constituents. It’s no wonder Ms Snelgrove is often referred to as The Government’s representative in South Swindon.

When yesterday given the opportunity again to express their opposition to the post office closures:

With duplicitous behaviour like this, it’s no surprise that politicians are held in low esteem.


It seems that Mr Wills is having difficulty with his memory. His local red nest colleagues seem to have similar similar problems too. They may be keen to blame the local council or the post office management for the impending closure of local post offices, but let us not forget a couple of facts.

According to Mr Wills,

Instead of trying to help the people of Swindon the council is just trying to make a party political point

Perhaps he should have thought of helping the people of Swindon before casting his own vote last January and before opening his mouth now just to make a party political point himself.

What was the point?

As has already been widely reported, the Post Office has decided to go ahead with all its planned closures locally. To me, page 33 of their report sums up just how much of a sham the ‘consultation’ was.

There are no changes to the Area Plan Proposal for West Berkshire and Wiltshire as a result of local public consultation.

Their analysis of Westcott Place post office, and all the others for that matter, is bland — nothing more than a restatement of their original reasons for proposing closure.

Post Office® Westcott Place branch
Respondents’ main concern was the impact on the elderly and the wider community.

Post Office Ltd has considered all responses received and a review of this proposal has been undertaken. Customer numbers at this branch are relatively low. There are two alternative branches within approximately a mile, both of which can be accessed using public transport if required. The nearest branch at Rodbourne Road has good access into the branch with wide double doors to help facilitate entry for Post Office Ltd’s vulnerable customers. Taking these and all other relevant factors into account the decision is to proceed with the closure of Post Office® Westcott Place branch.

However strong the case for closure may have been, to run a ‘consultation’ and then so glibly disregard the comments made leaves a very bad impression. All those responsible for this process should be thoroughly ashamed.

Even greater unity

Just a day after I received a letter from Ms Snelgrove, I am now in receipt of a letter from Mr Buckland. Today’s letter from is slightly longer that yesterday’s letter from Ms Snelgrove. It naturally goes into more detail about the ‘cause’ of the proposed closure: a government initiated review. Rather unnaturally, it says rather little about what one might think of as a good conservative principle of running services profitably where possible. The local post office in Westcott Place only last year received a significant facelift and the branch would not, presumably, be a candidate for closure if that had been a success in bringing in greater custom. Not that this is a case for closure of itself: the Post Office are quite inflexible in their business model and the thought of paying sub-postmasters entirely on commission rather than having them salaried seems to be something they reserve for the likes of WH Smith.

Mr Buckland’s letter also brought to my attention that Ms Snelgrove’s letter is dated the day before the official announcement. Very speedy work.

Compare and contrast — letters to the left, forms to the right:

Political unity

In a rare burst of like-minded thinking, both Mr Buckland and Ms Snelgrove say they are campaigning to save the local post offices that are threatened with closure. I’ve even had a letter from Ms Snelgrove. The difference between the two at the moment seems to be that Mr Buckland offers some reasons why the offices should not close on his website, whereas Ms Snelgrove offers ‘solid arguments’ against the closures only if you’re willing to give her your contact details first, thereby giving her the right to contact you for political purposes rather than ‘non-political’ constituency purposes. Nice.

Frequent service?

Having noted yesterday that the Post Office seem to have written their branch access reports from a stance of total ignorance, this morning I checked the bus service at the bus stop outside Westcott Place Post Office. There is the grand total of three buses per day each way on Thamesdown route 26, none of which pass by Rodbourne Road Post Office. The exceptions to this are Saturdays and Sundays… when there are no buses at all. There may well be ‘a bus stop located 220 yards away both sides’ of Rodbourne Road Post Office, but they are not ones that the No. 26 bus calls at.

A remote post

The post office has announced which post offices it intends to close in the Wiltshire and West Berkshire. The list includes three within Swindon: Westcott Place (Central), Cheney Manor Road (Rodbourne) and Guildford Avenue (Lawn). Just beyond the borough boundary, the post office in Toomers Garden Centre on Stone Lane, Lydiard Millicent, is also scheduled for closure.

The nearest branches for those affected will now be those in Commercial Road, Rodbourne Road in Even Swindon (the suggested alternative for Cheney Manor Road and Westcott Place, although parcels that could be left for collection at Westcott Place always seen to be deposited at the Old Town branch), Cavendish Square (the suggested alternative for Guildford Avenue … I can’t see that going down well with the residents of Lawn), Queens Drive and the main town centre branch in Sanford Street. Those displaced from Lydiard Millicent are recommended to use the Shaw Village Centre branch.

The main interest of the branch access reports for the urban offices seems to be whether their is a bus service between the closed and replacement offices… which is fine for those that live right by the soon-to-be-closed branches, and a fairly pointless observation for all others. For Westcott Place, the report states that ‘There is a bus stop located outside the branch.’ That’s true. What is not true is the statement ‘There is a frequent bus service between the two branches.’ There is no such thing: the bus stop outside Westcott Place Post Office is virtually disused. The reports were clearly written with zero local knowledge.

It is nice to see that Mrs Snelgrove has already stated her opposition to the closures, but given that is a result of a policy of her own party in government, which she always backs, regardless of local consequences it is difficult to believe this is more than empty rhetoric from her.

The consultation on the closure plans is open until 31 January 2008, though it appears to be of the We’re consulting because we have to but won’t take any notice of the comments type. Comments should be sent to:

Tim Nickolls
Network Development Manager
C/o National Consultation Team
Email: consultation@postoffice.co.uk.