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Task group to discuss closures
A SPECIAL task group is being set up by Wiltshire County Council to investigate what it can do to help maintain some Post Office services.
The move follows the Post Office's announcement this year that in Wiltshire 19 post offices will close with a further 11 branches replaced by outreach services. This followed an earlier announcement that across the country 2,500 branches will have to close.
Wiltshire County Council is opposed to the reduction in the number of Post Offices as it believes it will hit the most vulnerable and most isolated people most.
The task group is exploring which services could be delivered in other ways through other outlets. It is also looking at whether other funding would be available to support pilot schemes on this basis at minimum cost to the local tax payer. It will also look into ways of working with local communities and parish councils on the development of possible local solutions.
The county council has also looked at subsidising the Post Offices currently earmarked for closure. At present, the estimated cost of this is close to £350,000 per annum. However, the Post Office may announce further closures in 2011, so this figure may increase.
The council is also engaging with other authorities across the country in order to identify other solutions and to see if there is a common approach that could be taken by local government. The task group will explore all options in detail and report back to the council.
Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire County Council, said: "These cuts will have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and isolated people in the county. This is why we will be working hard over the coming months to try to put in place replacement services."
For more information on all of Wiltshire County Council's services, please visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk.