Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s Rural Affairs Champion, is calling for more help for Hampshire’s rural post offices.
Councillor Humby explained: “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. They are, in fact, central to combatting rural social isolation, particularly among the older generation.”
Councillor Humby was speaking as the Post Office continues to implement changes to rural post offices as part of its national modernisation programme, with the status of many smaller, rural post offices being changed from ‘community’ to ‘local’. This has 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 went on to say: “We are committed to helping keep Hampshire’s rural communities vibrant and thriving. We have a good track record of working closely with village shops through grants, business advice and support, so are well placed to work with the Post Office to see how we can ensure, together, that this vital part of rural life remains strong and financially sustainable.
“What we need now is clarity from the Post Office on how a ‘local’ or ‘community’ post office is defined, and to 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.
“I’d like the opportunity to make the case for Hampshire’s rural post offices, and will be inviting Paula Vennells and some of her senior managers to Hampshire to see how we can best help achieve all our goals.”