Yesterday I attended a workshop for the cabinet at Fylde to look at the budget. Needless to say there were some tough decisions to be made as the Government has once again screwed us over by expecting local tax payers to pick up the tab of free bus travel.
Officers of the council (whose job it is to make these suggestions) suggested that the Council stopped accepting cash payments for Council Tax at Post Offices. This would save the council £22,000 a year as local Post Offices charge a commission for this. At this point both myself a Cllr. Trevor Fiddler choked on our cup of coffee. This would have not only meant making some of the most vulnerable and elderly people in Fylde pay by direct debit, over the phone or the Internet – something that many of them don’t like or can’t do – but it meant taking £22,000 out of the local Post Office network. The network that has only just recovered from the body blow of Labour’s closure program and the network that is fragile and finely balanced.
Both Trevor and I argued to the rest of the cabinet that this service and this community good had to stay. And it is. The saving suggestion has been taken out of the budget and we’ll make savings elsewhere.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Post Offices are vital, they are a community service, a rural meeting place and local hub. They punch more than their weight and they are to be preserved and enhanced. They are something that quiet simply Labour and bean counters cannot appreciated – their true value is only recognised when they are not there anymore. I’m on the side of local people who want a local Post Office.