Postmasters await their fate

SUB-postmasters across Ipswich were today anxiously waiting to hear about their future after Post Office owners Consignia warned that a third could face closure.

SUB-postmasters across Ipswich were today anxiously waiting to hear about their future after Post Office owners Consignia warned that a third could face closure.

Up to 3,000 urban sub-post offices – on housing estates or town centres – could face closure as Consignia struggles to re-shape its business.

And the local spokesman of the National Federation of Sub Postmasters John Richardson, who runs Brunswick Road post office, warned that there could be big changes in the town.

"Our members are very worried, but we knew something like this was in the pipeline," he said.


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"We won't know the full plans until later in the year, and it could take three years for everything to be worked through – but it is worrying times for the sub-postmasters," he said.

The Post Office said today there were "simply too many" branches in many towns and cities.

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Post Office executive director Alan Barrie said: "Profitability is reducing to the point where it is increasingly difficult for sub-postmasters to run viable businesses, let along invest in the future.'

Branches were closing despite efforts to find people to take over when sub-postmasters retired.

The Government has committed £270 million to "modernise and protect' the urban and rural network, although the aid has to be cleared by the European Union and approved by Parliament.

Mr Barrie said that 95 per cent of people in urban areas would still live within a mile of their nearest branch following the changes.

Rural post offices would not be affected by the plan.

There are more than 17,500 post offices in the UK, which are visited by 28 million people every week.

But the network is losing an estimated £100 million a year on total sales of £1.2 billion.

The network faces the loss of £400 million a year when benefit payments are made into bank accounts instead of through order books at Post Office branches.

An average branch stands to lose 41% of its turnover.

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