Discussions on future of post office

UNCERTAINTY over the future of Suffolk's post office network has prompted officials and the county's business community to explore ways of protecting the service.

UNCERTAINTY over the future of Suffolk's post office network has prompted officials and the county's business community to explore ways of protecting the service.

Representatives from businesses and the voluntary sector were invited to join Suffolk County councillors at a policy development panel meeting to consider the impact that post office closures will have on communities across the county.

The aim of the meeting was to examine ways of assisting the private sector to continue to provide post offices services or identify ways that the voluntary and community sector could deliver the services instead.

Councillor Eddy Alcock said: “Post offices, especially where linked to a local shop, are part of the fabric of local communities providing access to basic essentials.

“In many cases the post office provides an important social, community and economic function and this is what we need to work together to protect.

“I was pleased to have the backing of the business community and the voluntary sector and can assure those who attended the meeting that their views will be reflected in the final report.”

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The meeting looked at the mobile library service to see what could be done to link the two services.

Opportunities for 'kick start' funds to encourage small businesses to start up in rural and deprived rural communities were also investigated, along with issues regarding business rate relief.

It was agreed that Suffolk County Council could offer practical support to post office providers such as business advice and training. The council also accepted it had an important role in lobbying government to reduce restrictions on post offices giving them the opportunity to ensure sustainability.

The panel will now produce a draft report which will be circulated to post offices and interested parties for comment prior to taking the findings to cabinet in July.

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