Sheffield MP's concern over future of post office

Angela Smith MP.
Angela Smith MP.

A Sheffield MP has called for post office bosses to protect frontline services after figures revealed how a number of branches have closed locally in recent years.

Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed there are now 10 less branches in South Yorkshire than there were several years ago.

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This includes the recent closure of Burncross Post Office which shut last year despite widespread opposition and a petition with more than 1600 signatures claiming it was well used.

Residents have now successfully campaigned to get a post box reinstated at the site but Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, described this as 'small consolation' as residents still have to deal with the loss of a branch.

She said: "It is certainly pleasing Burncross will once again get post box in the area where it has lost its post office.

"This, however, is small consolation for the post office the area has lost.

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"The real truth of the matter is that over the last seven years hundreds of local post offices have closed nationally, leaving many areas without any postal services."

She added that she will be asking for a debate in the House of Commons on the future of post offices.

The post office moved into profit for the first time in 16 years last year but union bosses claimed this came on the back of cuts to services and job losses.

MPs have previously cited how more and more people are using online services which make for challenging trading conditions for the post office.

An FOI request revealed there were 188 branches in South Yorkshire in December 2017 compared with 198 in March 2011.

A Post Office spokesperson stressed that although there may now be less branches in the area around 150 have been modernised.

They added that there are also 76 branches now open on Sundays and there are about 4000 additional opening hours per week across the region thanks to the organisation's 'Network Transformation Programme'.

The spokesperson said: “We can be really clear that we’re not closing post offices, and that when one does temporarily shut – be that due to the resignation or retirement of the postmaster, or even a flood or fire – then we always look for alternative solutions so we can continue providing vital services to customers and communities.

"A branch will only remain vacant for a period where no suitable premises or an agent can be identified.

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“Our network is at its most stable for decades and there are currently around 11, 500 post office branches open and trading across the UK.

"We are also in the process of opening new branches in areas where demand for post office services is high."

They added that bosses are also looking for a new location to re-open Burncross Post Office.