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Gloucester says... 'save our post offices'
Gloucester campaigns against post office closures
ON 19 April a Save Our Post Offices (SOPO) rally in Gloucester's shopping centre attracted 50 local campaigners. Speakers, including 83-year-old Dolly Parsons, explained the impact the closures would have on their lives.
Sue Powell, Gloucester Socialist Party
SOPO organiser Chris Moore said the campaign was having a real effect: There was still a chance to achieve an 'Essex'-type solution [in Essex the county council has bid to take over post offices threatened with closure to keep them open - Eds].
Chris told the rally: "The government wants Post Office Ltd to be run like a business rather than a service - even exempting Royal Mail from the Disability Discrimination Act. The decommissioning of the 12 post offices should be suspended until the county council has drawn up a rescue plan".
Gloucester campaigns against Post Office closures
Several hundred leaflets were distributed and over 100 signatures collected in just 40 minutes, before SOPO representatives handed in a letter to local Tory leader Barry Dare. Many people asked for leaflets to give their friends and neighbours.
The rally was preceded by demonstrations, a day of protest outside 12 post offices across the county, and meetings and letters being sent to every councillor. After we had called for a review of council spending, including councillors' expenses, the county council agreed to consider funding.
Shortly after SOPO lawyers wrote to remind them of their responsibilities as set down in government legislation, the council called a cross-party meeting with local MPs to examine a possible rescue plan. We intend to keep the pressure up.
There is a second lobby of Shire Hall on 23 April. The next day we'll show Post Office Ltd what we think of their moving the post office into WH Smith in Cheltenham. We want the county council to draw up a plan to save the post offices, based not on biased post office figures, but on council criteria and community needs.
One disabled person who spoke to us came from Wolverhampton, where the post office has been moved to the first floor of WH Smith and did not provide disabled access. Many elderly people, disabled people and their carers support our campaign because for them, these closures are really just the thin end of the wedge.
Current TV commercials advertise the "People's Post Office." The reality is, it's being handed over to big business. But we won't let that happen without a fight!
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