Closure threatens high street post offices

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The Independent Online

Half of all high street post offices could be closed or sold off under plans being considered by the Royal Mail.

As many as 270 stores could be shut down or offered to local consortiums as part of reforms being discussed with unions and consumer groups.

The plight of the Crown post offices, those run directly by Royal Mail, will be investigated later this month by the Trade and Industry Select Committee and a decision is expected on the future of all 560 branches before the end of the financial year.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Post Office Ltd hasn't reached a decision about the future of the 560 Crown post offices, but we confirmed a shortfall of £70 million in the last year.

"Discussion are ongoing with all interested parties and options included closures and offering local business people the chance to take over the offices."

Crown post offices, which operate without postmasters, are commonly in busy high streets and could command vast sums if sold off for commercial use.

Former sites in Glasgow's George Square and at Clapham Common have already been put up for sale and other branches in major cities could follow.

"It is not known when a decision will be made, but we are expecting it to be made soon. Certainly before the end of the financial year," said the spokesman.

Unions are opposed to the any wide scale sell–off, and have accused the Royal Mail of asset stripping.

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