JUST a week after a damning report from the charity Age Concern accused the government of standing by and allowing rural Post offices to close, the battle to save them is set to be taken up by members of North Yorkshire County Council who will debate the issue next week.
County Council to discuss threat to rural
Age Concern insists that Post offices are offering a lifeline in rural villages, particularly for older members of the community. The report went on to say that village life is in danger of dying out if swift action is not taken to stop the closures.
A motion from the county council's 'Older People's Champion', Councillor Shelagh Marshall, will call on the government to continue its £150m-a-year subsidy which helps around eight thousand rural post offices in the UK to stay in business.
The subsidy is due to end in March 2008, and the government is currently engaged in a consultation exercise before making a decision on whether or not to continue it.
"Rural post offices are a lifeline for many people, particularly the old, those on low incomes, those with transport difficulties, and those with disabilities, or in poor health," said Councillor Marshall.
Rural post offices are a lifeline for many people, particularly the old, those on low incomes...
Shelagh Marshall - County Councillor
"Uncertainty about the future of post offices causes great anxiety for older people, because they provide important access to essential services, including access to money, saving for and paying bills, and information."
Councillor Marshall's motion, which will be debated by the county council at its meeting on October 11, calls on the government to make a commitment to maintain the rural post office subsidy, and to press for all banks to offer their customers the facility to access current accounts at post offices.
The motion also calls on the county council to gather evidence and seek support for its stance from older people.