James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East has today hailed the decision to keep the Sutton Road Post Office branch in its network as a victory for “common sense”. The branch was under threat of closure after being named in the Post Offices' consultation which will see 2,500 branches closed nationwide in the next two years. By the time of the next election the Government will have closed over one third of the entire Post Office network. In Rochford and Southend East alone branches have been cut from 23 in 1999 to 13 in 2007.

James welcomed the decision of which he was notified this morning by letter from the Network Development Manager at the Post Office.

“I am delighted with the decision and I know that local residents, for whom this issue was a major concern, will also be pleased. We have lost too many of our local Post Office services already and I am therefore pleased that the voices of Southend residents have been heard.”

James and local Conservatives have been working hard to raise awareness of the threat to our local Post Offices and to also send a clear message to the government from local residents against further closures. Local MPs including James, David Amess MP and Mark Francois MP have been campaigning for some time now against the threat of Post Office closures. Along with local Councillor Nigel Folkard and Candidate David Manclark, James presented a petition with over 1000 signatures against the closure to Downing Street in March of this year.
James also signed Early Day Motion 997 which acknowledged the disappointment felt by many about the proposed closures, raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Post Office’s consultation and encouraged other options to help prevent the shutting down of Post Office branches.
In June 2008 the Post Office announced that it would hold a consultation on a number of local Post Offices and Sutton Road was named in the list of branches that it would potentially close. In response to this announcement James immediately met with the Sub-postmaster of Sutton Road Charlie Bohogal and Jim Nott the Secretary of the Sub-postmasters Federation to offer support for the branch. Following this, James also met with representatives of the Post Office including the Network Development Manager and expressed his opposition to their plans. He later lodged his opposition to the proposals by sending a detailed report to the consultation team focusing on his concerns about access for elderly and vulnerable residents to services upon which they relied.
James added,
“My main concern was always that the elderly and vulnerable would have services they relied heavily upon taken from them. The other branches could simply not be considered as viable alternatives for someone who finds it difficult to get around”. Although this is a time to celebrate in Rochford and Southend East we must not be complacent and I will continue to monitor the situation in close detail, and of course it is deeply disappointing to see local branches that are closing down elsewhere.”

20 August 2008