MEP blames Brussels for post office woes

Friday 18th January 2008 12:00 am

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THE Royal Mail Group have been accused of creating "wild defences" and ignoring the underlying issues surrounding the closure of rural post offices by local MEP, Ashley Mote. During a series of recent letters between the Alton based MEP for South East England and the office of Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, Mr Mote highlighted the root of the problem as an example of EU shared management. He also pointed to a hypocrisy in promoting local post offices through an advertising campaign while planning to pull the plug on many of them at the same time. Last week, The Herald reported on a previsional list of those offices in the area that would be spared closure, mentioning that after receiving letters many post-masters thought they were safe only to discover that this was in no way an assurance that they would be off the 'hit list'. However, according to Mr Mote the real issue lies not with the Post Office Group and UK Government policy but with Brussels. "We all know that it is the direct result of a European Union decision to enforce a legal ban on the subsidising from the public purse of essential public services which are not, and could never be, self-financing," he explained. "The point is that the way in which the EU works is by a system of shared management and, because of the way we implement EU directives, this has landed the UK with such frightful problems in the past." He went on to say that the way the UK acts on European directives is to "gold plate" what is often two paragraphs into a lengthy and complicated Act of Parliament. "This is the way we do things here and the EU has no grasp of the consequences of that decision on this country. I think people need to know that this is the real reason behind why this is being done. "The Royal Mail seem to be unaware of this and are bending over backwards to pretend that this entire programme is a UK initiative. Those at the office of Mr Crozier either don't know or don't want to know the full background facts." A Post Office spokesman didn't provide comment in relation to the issue of an EU directive but did address the question of hypocrisy through advertising while also proposing post office closures. "The business continues to face major commercial challenges and the TV advertisements are a key part of our drive to create a sustainable network. The new TV campaign plays a vital role in generating awareness of the great value offered by these products, helping support sub-postmasters nationwide. "The Government has recognised that fewer people are using post office branches, partly because traditional services, including benefit payments and other services are now available through other means, such as online or directly through banks."

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