Consultations over plans to close post offices have been slammed as “a cynical process” by an MP.
Lorely Burt (Lib Dem Solihull) has raised concerns in the House of Commons over plans to axe 56 post offices in the West Midlands, including 26 in Birmingham.
Five of the offices facing the axe, in Stratford, will be replaced by “outreach” services such as a mobile post office with limited opening hours.
Ms Burt feared that closures would take place whatever local people said in a consultation which is currently underway, she said.
The MP has sponsored a House of Commons motion calling on the Government to ensure the views of local residents are taken into account.
Ms Burt claimed that earlier consultations in the West Midlands, including a review of post offices in Shropshire and Staffordshire, had resulted in the views of residents being ignored.
Post Office Ltd has launched a consultation on the future of branches in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Coventry, which will continue until August 4.
In an interview last month, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, pledged that individual closures could be reversed if residents took part in the consultation to explain why they should remain open.
But Ministers also point out that post offices have lost four million customers over the past two years and the network makes a loss of £3.5 million a week. Changes are needed to ensure the network is viable, the Government has warned.
Ms Burt said: “I am concerned that this may be a cynical exercise with some post offices that are economically viable being lined up for closure, whereas others that may not be sustainable in the long term will go to the wall at a later date.
“I am seeking the support of MPs in calling on the government to ensure that residents in Solihull have a real say in the future of their community post offices.
“Sub postmasters assure me that they have a good business which local people are supporting. It would be a travesty to take that facility away when everyone locally uses it and wants to keep it.”
The official Commons motion said: “This house notes with concern that during the Post Office consultation in the Midlands so far, that despite 160 objections to the closure of a Post Office only 4 reversals have been successful ...and calls on the Government to ensure that the views of the residents in Solihull are fully acknowledged during the consultation and that where possible post offices are supported and encouraged to thrive rather than closed against the wishes of local people.”
See all the West Midland post office closures on our interactive map.