North MSP calls on SNP Council to support Post office network

28 May 2007

Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP Peter Peacock has called on the SNP run Highland Council to support the Highland post office network by using post offices to deliver key council services.

Mr Peacock said, "Local councils have a key role to support post offices. People should have the ability to pay council tax, rent, traffic fines; apply for housing and council tax benefit and disabled badges; examine planning applications and access other on-line applications."

"I have written to the convener of Highland Council and SNP group leader John Finnie urging them to ensure they maintain all current services and extend more through the post offices.

"I also urged the council to offer maximum rating relief to post offices and consider working in partnership with post offices by providing access to council facilities for outreach services, including mobile library services.

"The council have the opportunity to positively support the effort of the UK government to secure a viable post office network. "

"I raised parliamentary questions on support for additional outreach services for postal services last weekly with Cabinet Secretary John Swinney.

"I was extremely disappointed that he did not take the opportunity to add Scottish Executive funding to that being provided by the UK government.

"John Swinney was dismissive of such a move saying that ‘prudence’ was his priority – not saving vital post offices in our area."

In questioning Cabinet Secretary John Swinney, Peter Peacock, raised in parliament the excellent work undertaken at Muir of Ord, where the local postmaster takes postal services successfully out to two nearby villages and the mobile post office service in Caithness, where the postmaster visits five villages, four times a week, as examples of how postal services could be expanded with the extra funding Alistair Darling has made available for 500 new outreach services.

Mr Peacock continued, "I will keep pressing John Swinney on this and he was at least forced to accept under questioning that he may be prepared to look at particular cases that are well made.

"Having prised that door open a little we need to see how many post offices can be assisted through."

 

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