THE Countryside Alliance welcomes the government’s plans for the future of our post office network. Their newly launched consultation outlines a way to put the network at the forefront of financial services in the UK. These plans will be especially welcome to those in rural communities worried about the future of their post office.

However, there is concern. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has praised the post office’s worth to our economic and social fabric, yet this consultation tackles only the economic element. Having been given a dressing down only recently about failing to understand the social impact of branch closures, does the government now believe that a beefed-up financial services package will make it all better? And not only that, but financial services backed by the Bank of Ireland, so any profits will be heading out of the UK?

We have in the past criticised the government’s role in making the network unviable by removing services such as TV licensing, so it is encouraging that they are now looking to make amends. We would encourage anyone who loves their post office to take part in the consultation and let the government know how much their post office means to them.

SIMON HART Chief Executive Countryside Alliance