Post Office branches are a lifeline for rural communities and must be protected, says North Cornwall Lib Dem Dan Rogerson.
Mr Rogerson, the Government Minister for Rural Affairs, called on all political parties to make a commitment not to close post office branches, and said that campaigning to protect and improve branches across North Cornwall would be one of his priorities if he is re-elected as local MP.
A series of Post Office closure programmes under the previous Conservative and Labour governments saw dozens of branches in Cornwall axed, including Grimscott, Marhamchurch, Newport (Launceston), Poughill, Trebetherick and Trevone.
Nationally 4,000 branches closed since Labour took office in 1997, following 3,500 under the previous Conservative administration.
In Coalition Government, Liberal Democrat Business Ministers responsible for Post Offices (Vince Cable and Jo Swinson) have prevented any further closure programmes by requiring Post Office Ltd to maintain a network of at least 11,500 branches, adhering to the strict access criteria including that 99% of the population should live within 3 miles of a Post Office.
Vince Cable has also provided millions of pounds of investment to improve branches, as well as a specific £20 million fund to help keep small rural branches open.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have a manifesto plan to renew the 2010–15 commitment that there will be no programme of Post Office closures.
Dan Rogerson said:
“Protecting local post offices has always been one of my priorities as local MP. I fought hard against local post office closures when they happened under the last government, and I have been working with my Lib Dem colleagues in the Coalition Government to stop government-imposed Post Office branch closures, and to make sure that our Post Offices are properly funded and supported.
“Liberal Democrats have a record of action in providing vital funding to keep branches open, and a promise of more - we are the only party offering a policy to keep 11,500 Post Office branches open across the country, including lifeline rural Post Offices.”