HL Deb 19 April 2004 vol 660 cc13-4WA
Lord Rogan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the implications on social care and health of closing sub-post offices in Northern Ireland. [HL2076]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

The Government recognise the important role played by sub-post offices in local communities, particularly in rural areas and for the elderly and less mobile. Since November 2000 there has been a formal requirement on Post Office Ltd to maintain the rural network and prevent avoidable closures. This applies until 2006 in the first instance.

In developing its urban reinvention programme post office closure proposals, Post Office Ltd undertakes a detailed assessment of the accessibility (including for the elderly and disabled) of alternative offices identified as the main receiving branches. This assessment includes the nature of the terrain between the branches, the distance of the journey on foot, including how busy the roads are and whether/where there are pedestrian crossings, traffic lights or underpasses where these need to be crossed. Access by public transport, predominately by bus, is checked giving route numbers and distance of stops from the closing and receiving branches. Availability of parking is also checked. At the end of this programme, at least 95 per cent of the urban population nationally will still live within one mile of a post office and the majority within half a mile.