Thursday, October 19, 2006
Post Offices not safe in Labour hands
Gwenda Thomas's response to the campaign backing sub-postmasters, led by Liberal Democrats Lembit Öpik and Mick Bates and locally by Peter Black and Sheila Waye (pictured here at Gwaun Cae Gurwen post office), is to remind people of the rate relief available to rural small businesses.
This is useful, so far as it goes, but it cannot make up for the loss of business relating to TV and vehicle licensing, and to the scheduled withdrawal of the Card Account in 2010.
Much more to the point would be reanimating the Post Office Development Fund set up by the LibDem/Labour partnership assembly government in 2002. This Labour has resolutely refused to do.
Let us be clear: we are not defending the Post Office Card Account (POCA) just for the sake of opposition, or just for the sake of keeping local post offices open. The POCA is the only kind of banking facility which is available to some people - and Gordon Brown's tax credit system insists on paying child & working tax credits into a bank account. There is no cash option.
POCA was also the sweetener offered to old age pensioners in return for giving up their pension books.