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Put post offices in forecourts plea

01 June, 2007
As the government starts to axe 2,500 post offices, Garage Watch Campaign has the ideal solution. tracy west reports
Page 4 
Garage Watch Campaign (GWC) is stepping up its drive to get more post offices put in forecourt stores. The news comes as the government is about to close 2,500 post offices. Apparently losses from these outlets are running at £4m a week.
Garage Watch Campaign co-ordinator, Keith Ashton, explained: "The government has already conceded that action needs to be taken to protect rural communities. In this respect the GWC is to step up its lobbying position on its proposal to re-site post offices in filling station shops."In its plans for the post office closures, the government says it has strengthened protection for customers in rural and deprived urban communities. It plans to do this via the use of 'outreach' outlets in village halls and community centres. However Ashton counters that these are not needed: "Outreach outlets are a brilliant idea but they are not really necessary because we have the bricks and mortar buildings ready here now."Forecourts are already open for business with staff available to be trained in post office procedures. They have adequate parking facilities and the local community is already used to using them. Plus our plan could help more ruralforecourts actually stay in business."Ashton is now urging forecourt retailers to lobby their MPs to put pressure on the government."We've been involved every step of the way during the review process and have always put forward the view that rural communities will suffer," said Ashton. "Now that the closures have been announced, we are increasing our lobbying to persuade the government to look favourably at out proposal."There are currently around 300 post offices already located in forecourt stores but it is not known how many, if any, of these will be axed.