Postal Affairs Minister Jo Swinson today visited Bishop’s Hull Post Office in Taunton, Somerset, to celebrate the Post Office reaching 500 branch conversions as part of its programme to modernise the Post Office network.
The network transformation programme focuses on two new operating models – Post Office ‘main’ and Post Office ‘local.’ These will help make the network more financially sustainable and improve the experience for customers through a modern retail environment and longer opening hours.
Bishop’s Hull Post Office is an example of the new local model. The previous Post Office branch closed in November 2010. However, following funding from the Network Transformation Programme the branch recently reopened. It is now open seven days a week for a total of 67 hours – 16 hours more than under the traditional model.
Customers can carry out a wide range of Post Office services including automated banking services, bill and budget payment schemes, Postal Orders and postage, international letters and Special Delivery post.
Along with members from the Post Office team, the Minister is visiting Tim and Linda Pope, subpostmasters of the Bishop’s Hull Post Office, and their staff to hear about their experience of re-establishing a Post Office ‘local’ service alongside a village store.
Postal Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:
I am delighted to visit the Bishop’s Hull Post Office today to celebrate reaching 500 conversions in the plan to modernise the Post Office network. This is a significant milestone and the new model for Bishop’s Hull branch highlights how the Post Office can serve customers in the modern age and be sustainable in the future.
The Post Office is the cornerstone of the local community. With over 11,500 branches, it provides unparalleled reach into communities up and down the country. The Government recognises this value which is why we have made a clear commitment to its future by providing funding of £1.34 billion to 2015.
This will help fund more conversions under the modernisation programme so that Post Offices can open longer, and safeguard the network at its current size.
Paula Vennells, Post Office Chief Executive said:
We are delighted to pass the landmark of 500 branches modernised as part of the largest investment programme in the history of the Post Office. Customer feedback in these branches has already been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the benefits of a modern retail environment and significantly longer opening hours.
Linda Pope, subpostmaster at Bishop’s Hull Post Office, said:
It was vital that the Post Office stayed within the village. The whole experience has been very rewarding for us and the local people to see this amenity survive.
All services will be offered from the till on the retail counter in the village store and the majority of Post Office products and services will be available. The parish council will be doing its financial dealings through the Post Office instead of going into town.
Since reopening we have seen many new people visiting the butchers, grocery shop and Post Office.
The government is committed to safeguarding the future of the Post Office network and will not close any branches. It has invested £1.34 billion of funding until 2015 to revitalise the network and make sure it is sustainable in the long term.
This funding package requires Post Office to continue to maintain a national network of at least 11,500 branches, with no programme of closures and to comply fully with the access criteria, set by government in 2007. This includes a requirement that 95% of the total rural population across the UK are within a three mile reach of their nearest Post Office outlet.
Over a third of the funding is being used to modernise Post Office branches. Network Transformation will see the modernisation of 6,000 branches to the new local or main models by 2015.
The new models were extensively piloted across the country ahead of the national rollout which started last October. So far 1,450 contracts have been signed for conversion, with 500 branches now operating as a local or main Post Office.
Notes to editors
- The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.’ It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
- to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.