Fears that loss of post offices could hit rural communities

Raymond Farrell. UUP


THERE ARE growing fears over the future of rural post offices as staff claim that mounting cut-backs in services will see the once ‘hub of communities’ left economically unviable.

Despite assurances from senior management that there will be no closures of post offices in Fermanagh within the next four years, a number of staff have expressed concern over the dwindling need for the core of the business.


It is widely believed that a push to put most of its services online will have a detrimental effect on rural post offices.

In a letter sent to a local councillor from a Post Office senior manager, it states there will be no closures until March 2018, however the letter does not indicate whether services will be relocated.

One staff member, who did not want to be named, said it was a worrying matter.

The postal worker said: “I do believe that it’s (closures) are going to happen.

“It’s not as black and white to say that nothing will happen until then because things are changing and we can do is changing and what we are paid to do has changed.

“Eventually, it won’t be viable for us to stay open because the services are just not as essential as it would have been because of the internet.

“We aren’t required to do the same things anymore – we haven’t even got the same contracts.


“Shops can now pay bills and sell stamps so people aren’t as dependent on us.

“The biggest loss of services is the bank for pension and family allowance so people don’t have to get that at the Post Office anymore.

“Because people are able to email they don’t have to send letters anymore so the core of our business isn’t required anymore.

“We still do have our regulars and if it closed it would be a big issue for them, but when that generation goes the young ones wouldn’t miss it as they rarely use us.”

Raymond Farrell, UUP councillor, said there is a lot of anxiety among staff and urged the Executive to put in protection measures.

“The post office is the hub of the local community and if you take that service away, it will have an impact on other businesses,” he said.

“The motive for my letter was because I wanted them to give assurances to staff and the community that the future for these services are safe. But I remain to be convinced, as are staff and I will want to see these assurances are correct and factual.

“There needs to be an emphasis given to particular rural communities.

“We really have to get the Executive to put more effort in protecting and reassuring local people.”

An extract from the letter sent to Cllr Farrell stated: “ The government has allocated funding to us in order for this modernisation to take place and one of the requirements of that funding is that there will be no Post Office closures until March 2018 at the earliest.

“This is not to say there will be closures from then, only that this is when the current funding finishes. By that time it is our goal to have the network in such a position that we don’t need the same level of government funding and can stand on our own two feet.”


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