Post office campaign should continue

Those behind the public relations campaign to prevent the closure of post offices should continue in the face of the government’s confirmation that 2,500 will be lost in the next 18 months. 

On the one hand, the closures are far fewer than had been predicted (so a successful campaign?), but I’m not sure the debate about the value of thriving local communities has totally been won.  The post office should be at the heart of reinvigorating villages and neglected urban neighbourhoods – and more services should be encouraged to be offered via this central hub.  Rather than moving post offices into supermarkets (as is the case in Waitrose in Salisbury), there should be a philosophy of encouraging the social benefits that come from a good post office.

The post office is a great place of communications – not as Royal Mail marketers, but where vital government and other social information could be discussed.  It can act as a barometer on concerns if used for two-way communications – and also provides comfort and recognition of, particularly the elderly, who may have little other contact.

I welcome the idea of mobile post offices as part of the solution and it is good to see requirements for 90% of the population to be within one mile of a branch. However, they state in rural areas, 95% of the population should be within three miles, with that distance doubling to six miles in remote areas.  I’m not sure what the definition of rural and remote is – but 3-6 miles is a heck of a distance for many people – especially when public transport is minimal and we’re increasingly being discouraged from driving.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

5 thoughts on “Post office campaign should continue”

  1. I’m equi-distant between two towns ( I live in a village). If my village’s post office closes, I’ve got a choice between a six-mile trek one way or the same distance the other.

    If my, along with countless other, post offices are not making a profit, then is being the hub of the local community and a necessity for the elderly enough to keep them open?

    Out local post office was featured on local tv the last time this was mooted.

    How can we become part of the two-way communcation process if we’ve not been invited? Is this where people in local communities become activists? We’re all aware of the situation and the bulk of us have transport, so some of us won’t become active against this. And, I wonder, if our elderly populaton will have the impetus to take a stand against this.

  2. For me part of the problem is in looking at post offices only from an economic profit perspective. There are other ways of assessing value in the local community and particularly, perhaps linking into social access issues with some creative thinking. Other services could also be put into post offices – commercial and social.

    As well as elderly, they could think about the role of the post office in relation to young mums, and the millions of “enterprise” workers like myself who are based from home and use the local post-office as a key part of our business.

    If the government really did want to engage in two-way communications – then using post offices to seek views (digitally or otherwise) would be possible. I also think that the millions wasted on national television advertising campaigns by government could be redirected into community campaigns using local post-offices etc.

    It is interesting to look at how publics who might care about the issue could become active. The elderly have power in terms of their time and ability to be vocal – but not necessarily economically (although their children who will otherwise have to do more for them are more financially and politically of interest to government). For the rest of us, I believe the campaign needs to ramp up feelings of personal involvement (forecasts of ghost villages, fear messages over lonely oldies etc) and have some easy way of getting involved and behind the post offices. You never know a “use it or lose it” campaign could actually make more post offices economically viable too.

  3. …The post office should be at the heart of reinvigorating villages and neglected urban neighbourhoods – and more services should be encouraged to be offered via this central hub…

    Totally and absolutely. Why, oh why are these people destroying the ethos of towns, taking the heart out of them? It’s so, so depressing.

  4. The Conservative candidate I represent in York Outer is very concerned about this issue too and has suggested that the city council should use post offices for making payments to them. It will be a sad loss to village life and I know elderly people in my area who have no car, or computer, and could not travel any distance for these services.

  5. There are lots of ways that a local hub to include a post-office could be conceived at the heart of communities. I believe this is as important in urban environments as village ones where a sense of belonging is just as vital.

    My view is even stronger on deliveries – the postie is potentially the only person guaranteed to visit every street every day. This is a real strength and asset that isn’t being utilised sufficiently.

    For example, when students submit their assignments to me, I always recommend using recorded/special delivery which is cost-effective and reliable. I let the postman know I’m expecting a lot of work, and he arranges with the sorting office for the relevant paperwork to be produced etc, and one van arrives early in the morning with all the packages for me. In contrast, if students use couriers (much more expensive), I end up with dozens of vans individually driving into my village (on one occasion last year a van came from Leicester to Salisbury with one package on board). They arrive at various times throughout the day and it is very inconvenient to re-arrange delivery if I’ve popped out.

    It will be such a shame if “competition” or an economic only argument is used to destroy the value of a unified post-office service. Just like directory enquiries – have you ever heard of anyone who welcomed the 118 “choice” of operators?

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