MP pursues mobile Post Office problems in outlying villages
GEOFFREY Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, has met senior Post Office executives to discuss the continued and persistent technical problems that have blighted Mobile Post Offices across Devon. The MP urged a review of the mobile van service, and in p
GEOFFREY Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, has met senior Post Office executives to discuss the continued and persistent technical problems that have blighted Mobile Post Offices across Devon.
The MP urged a review of the mobile van service, and in particular, whether it can provide a long term, robust and reliable service to rural communities. The Post Office has promised to perform such a review in the light of recent problems.
The meeting was arranged after a series of disruptions shortly before Christmas, of the Post Office's Horizon system, which controls banking transactions for mobile and other "outreach" Post Offices.
Technical glitches had left tlocal operators unable to offer more than a skeleton service, preventing pensioners from collecting their pensiosn and local businesses from using banking services
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At the meeting Mr Cox met Tim Nickolls, Post Office Ltd's regional network development manager. He pressed Mr Nickolls about the state of postal services in Torridge and West Devon and raised the specific situation of villages such as Milton Abbott, Ashwater, Shebbear and Ashreigney where there had been particular difficulties.
Mr. Nickolls apologised for the prolonged disruptions during the vital Christmas period assuring the MP that the Post Office remained committed to maintain a high level of service in the area. He told the MP that there would be a review of the long term viability of the Mobile Post Offices in villages such as Shebbear.
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Speaking after the meeting, Mr Cox said: "I have been watching closely and have become extremely concerned at the consistent difficulties experienced by mobile and other outreach post offices in recent months, which through no fault of the operators have meant that, on frequent occasions, they have been unable to pay out pensions on which people depend. This situation must not be repeated, and I am pleased that the Post Office is to review the long term viability of the mobile service to fulfil the needs of local Post Office customers.
"Over the course of our discussion we spoke in some detail about each of the Post Offices that were affected by the latest round of closures, and the level of service they now provide. While in some cases I am broadly satisfied that the new situation works reasonably well, it is clear that there is much scope for improvement. This is particularly the case in Shebbear, where in my view there is a proven need for a branch, and the current 'outreach' system has experienced repeated difficulties.
"Ultimately, I still remain to be convinced that the mobile 'outreach' system is sustainable in the long term. Even if it can work well, its reliance on human factors, such as a committed operator, can lead to sudden loss of service. This was exemplified in Ashreigney, where the operator sadly became ill and due to a lack of cover local residents, with no warning, were deprived of their mobile Post Office for a number of days. This cannot be the best model for a permanent, reliable and robust provision of service.