Post offices may close despite profits

POST offices threatened with closure in Ipswich may actually be making a profit, The Evening Star can reveal.Four post offices in the town are in line to be closed because the government believes the UK network is “unsustainable” and a total of 2,500 branches need to close by 2009.

A FATHER and son fighting to stop post offices in Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal being axed are today furious closures may take place even if the branches make a profit.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer and his son Ben Gummer, Ipswich Conservative candidate for the next general election, say the closures are badly-thought out and being rushed through.

Four post offices in Ipswich and six in Coastal are set for closure because government believes the UK network, which currently loses £4 million a week, is “unsustainable” and a total of 2,500 branches need to close by 2009.

However post office bosses have conceded finances of individual post offices do not determine whether they are up for the chop.

Mr Gummer senior said Post Office bosses were keeping finances of the branches they want to close secret because of 'commercial confidentiality'.

“They receive millions of pounds of taxpayers' money but refused to tell me whether or not the post offices they are closing make a profit. No normal business would operate in this way,” he said.

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“Even if branches do not make a profit, surely it would be better to work out how to turn them into good businesses rather that just getting rid of them.”

Mr Gummer junior said: “The Post Office have demonstrated a complete lack of transparency so far on this issue and so I hold out little hope that they will open up their books as any public service should do.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said branches facing closure “could be making a profit” but added that “the vast majority” of those facing the axe are not profitable. The Post Office has to consider the sustainability of the entire network rather than the profitability of individual branches.

He said: “Nobody likes to see their local post office close.

“The issue here is we have to look at the wider picture and make sure everybody has access to the service.”

Fore Street, Christchurch Street, London Road and Norwich Road post offices in Ipswich face closure.

A public consultation into the proposals ends Monday with a final decision on branches to close due in mid-December.

SUPPORT for keeping the four post offices in Ipswich threatened with closure is growing.

Conservative candidate for the next general election, Ben Gummer, said a petition in support of the branches has received more than 800 signatures.

Mr Gummer will present the petition to Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street later this year.

Meanwhile Labour MP Chris Mole has carried out a survey which more than 300 residents responded to and showed 95 per cent of people want to keep the service.

Liberal Democrats in Suffolk say they have received close to 400 expressions of support for Post Offices in Ipswich alone.

Cllr Andrew Cann, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council's Liberal Democrats, said: “I think this just shows the level of support post offices have in our communities.

“I'd urge Royal Mail to think very carefully about the damage to community life they will do by closing branches in Ipswich, and across Suffolk.”