Rushen’s MHKs have accused the Isle of Man Post Office of no longer acting in the national interest after it announced the end of counter services in Port St Mary.
With the current incumbents due to retire, the Post Office sought expressions of interest for a new provider, but with no one coming forward, it has announced it will close at the end of this month.
A Post Office spokesperson had said that ‘with effect from November 1 , customers currently using Port St Mary Post Office will need to choose an alternative post office, the nearest post office being in Port Erin (1.2 miles away) located on Church Road, to transact their postal business and other associated services’.
They added: ‘In an increasingly digital world, as customers increasingly choose digital alternatives to counter-based services, the migration of counter service users from Port St Mary will make Port Erin Post Office a stronger and more sustainable office for all customers, commercial partners and the sub postmaster.’
In response to this, Rushen MHKs Dr Michelle Haywood and Juan Watterson SHK, have said they are disappointed about the closure and that no-one had come forward to run the counter services. They also criticised the tender process, saying it ‘was only open for two weeks, so it was hardly surprising’ that no-one came forward.
They added: ‘It appears to us that this was just held over until after the election to deflect a public backlash. A sensible length of time advertising the service would have allowed other possible businesses to come forward. This whole situation has been driven by the Post Office procedures for dealing with a sub-postmaster retirement, and not by the needs or wishes of the community that this Post Office serves. The persistent failure of the Post Office Board to recognise the community value of having town Post Offices, whilst returning over £1.6 million profits shows that the Post Office no longer acts in the national interest.
‘We wish to be clear that there can be no criticism of the incumbent, the Calverts who have stayed open and gone above and beyond the requirements of the Post Office despite the ongoing uncertainty that has continually come from Douglas HQ. It is clear that despite many Tynwald debates, the Board of the Post Office cannot see the social value that is being thrown away by giving notice to the Calverts to terminate their contract rather than working with them flexibly to maintain services.
‘We know that Port Erin Post Office is a friendly and well-managed operation, but we fear that the loss of this key asset from Port St Mary will have very foreseeable knock on consequences for footfall and remaining retailers. As such, we will be lobbying Chief Minister candidates, and looking to speak to the new Enterprise Minister and Post Office Chairman on this subject as soon as they are appointed.’