Executive forced to move on question of Post Offices support

24 July 2007

Highlands and Islands Labour regional MSP, Peter Peacock, has got the SNP Scottish Executive on the move on the question of support for local post offices, following questions in the Scottish Parliament. He believes the outcome stands to benefit Sutherland.

In a written answer to a question on providing funding to help sustain local services, Mr Peacock has been told that Executive officials "are examining the department of Trade and Industry’s plans for the post office network to see where the Scottish Executive can add value".

Further, the reply says, "We will seek to do all we can within our devolved powers to secure the best possible outcome".

Mr Peacock said, "This is a change of position over that first given to me by Cabinet Secretary John Swinney in Parliament and I welcome the fact he is at last listening to the needs of rural areas after having pressure put on him.

"At least there now appears a commitment to look at funding rural post offices and supporting them in other ways.

"I await the detailed proposals of how local communities can apply for funding, what cash limits will apply and what the priorities for any funding will be.

"There are huge expectations to fulfill and I hope he is not going to let people down when the detail is released.

"I encourage the SNP Executive to match the commitment shown by the Westminster Government to support new rural outreach services, such as those being piloted in Muir of Ord and Caithness."

Mr Peacock concluded, "There are post offices in Sutherland facing challenging circumstances and I sincerely hope this concession from the Executive means something real in helping protect rural services, but only time will tell."



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