MP challenges ministers over “refusal to engage” over modernisation scheme

Government ministers have been challenged over their “refusal to engage” on the Post Office modernisation programme by Angus MP Mike Weir.

Mr Weir raised the issue during a ministerial statement on the renewal of the contract for the Post Office Card Account.

Whilst welcoming the renewal of the contract, Mr Weir challenged the minister’s assertion that the modernisation programme was going well and that the POCA would be a stepping stone to mainstream banking.

Mr Weir pointed out that in Angus many post offices were being moved or changed from stand alone to local models with concerns about the loss of privacy in banking transactions. He expressed frustration that ministers had simply “washed their hands” of the continuing difficulties with the Post Office network.

He continued: “Ever since the passing of the Postal Services Act which privatised the Royal Mail and created a separate Post Office Limited UK government ministers have simply washed their hands of the continuing problems of the network, despite the fact it is taxpayers money that is financing the programme.

“In Angus we have seen huge changes proposed in the last few months in all areas of the county, yet Post Office Limited claim it is purely coincidental. Frankly that is now very hard to believe.

“In Kirriemuir, Forfar and Montrose we have one Post Office serving the whole town, and in Forfar and Kirriemuir both are proposed to transfer into other businesses losing some positions that provide privacy for banking transactions.

“The Minister’s statement that the Post Office Card Account will provide a stepping stone for ‘mainstream banking’ also rings hollow when we see the Royal Bank closing its branch in Kirriemuir at the same time as the Post Office is being converted to a ‘local model’.

“It is unbelievable that such widespread changes are not planned, yet the company insist it is coincidental and ministers refuse to engage.

“This hardly inspires confidence that either of them have a real appreciation of the impact of these changes on local communities.”