The future of our post offices

I’ve been interested in post offices since 1978 when I became Research Officer at the Post Office Engineering Union (POEU) which later became the National Communications Union (NCU) and is now the Communication Workers Union (CWU). I spent 24 years as a trade union official before taking early retirement.

This week, I chaired the Post Offices Advisory Group (POAG) of Consumer Futures which is now part of Citizens Advice. This is something which I have done for seven years now, dating back to when I was on the board of the then Consumer Focus (before that I was on the board of Postwatch, which was merged into Consumer Focus, when I attended the predecessor body to POAG).

At its post-war peak, the size of the post office network was around 24,000, but today it is down to about 11,500 and the Government has committed to maintain the network at this number of outlets. I can remember when Post Office Limited (POL) proudly claimed that there were 28 million customer visits a week but that figure is now down to about 17 million a week.

So the network is currently undergoing its third major change programme in a decade. Urban Reinvention involved the closure of nearly 2,500 post offices and the Network Change Programme required another 2,500 closures with around 500 new outreach locations. The current project is called the Network Transformation Programme and, while the size of the network should stay the same, every office will be modernised, redesignated or relocated.

Outside the 370 or so Crown offices (owned and staffed by POL itself), the network will consist of three models: Main Offices (open plan section in another retail operation), Local Offices (till in another retail operation) and Community Offices including outreaches (effectively the last shop in the community).

The Network Transformation Programme has so far involved around 4,500 physical changes – about 2,500 Mains and 2,000  Locals – with something like 40 conversions every week around the country. The whole programme is due to be completed by March 2018.

So, if you value your local post office, please use it.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>