Agenda and minutes

Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

35.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 April 2008.

Minutes:

This item was deferred to the next ordinary meeting of the Committee.

36.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Messrs. R.F. Goreham, C.R. Jordan, R.G. Kybird, K. Martin and Mrs. T. Hewett.

37.

Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a person or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

The following declarations were made:

 

  • Mr. K.S. Gilbert – Personal interest as an employee of Royal Mail based at a Post Office (not earmarked for closure).
  • Mr. J. Joyce (Public speaker) – Personal interest as a Substitute Member of Norfolk Police Authority, as Sub-postmaster at Wood Dalling Village Post Office (not earmarked for closure) and also as Vice-Chairman of the Norwich Branch of Sub-postmasters.

38.

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.

Minutes:

The following persons were in attendance for agenda item 6:

 

Breckland Members:

  • Mrs J. Ball
  • Mr. P. Balaam
  • Mr. P. Francis
  • Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris
  • Mr. I.A.C. Monson
  • Mrs. L. Turner

 

Public Speakers:

  • Mr. Gary Grange, Senior External Relations Manager, Post Office Ltd
  • Ms. Laura Tarling, Network Development Manager, Post Office Ltd
  • Ms. Jacqui Gissane, Field Change Adviser, Post Office Ltd
  • Mr. Kevin Andrew, Deputy Chairman, Postwatch
  • Mr. Martin Hickey, Iceni Partnership
  • Mr. Peter Smith, Norfolk Rural Community Council
  • Mr. James Joyce, Substitute Member Norfolk Police Authority, Vice-Chairman Norwich Branch of Subpostmasters and Subpostmaster Wood Dalling Village Post Office
  • Mr. Arthur Mobbs, North Tuddenham Post Office
  • Mrs. Christine Mobbs, North Tuddenham Post Office
  • Mr. Lew Pearson, Longham Post Office
  • Ms. Violet Highton, New Buckenham Parish Council
  • Mr. Ken Gee, New Buckenham Parish Council
  • Mrs. Gloria Fowler, Chairman, Beeston with Bittering Parish Council
  • Major Simon Salter, Clint Green Post Office
  • Mr. David Myhill, Yaxham Parish Council
  • Mrs. Nokes, Beeston Post Office
  • Mrs. Powell, Clerk to Beachamwell Parish Council
  • Mr. Powell, Beachamwell Parish Council
  • Mr. K. Allen, Beeston Post Office
  • Mrs. Jan Godfrey, Member Breckland Local Strategic Partnership
  • Mr. C. Beane, Bawdeswell Parish Council

39.

Post Office Network Change Programme (Agenda Item 6)

This Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting is an additional single issue meeting to debate the implications of the current consultation for the Norfolk and West Suffolk Area Plan of the Post Office Network Change Programme which concludes on 2 June 2008.  Representatives from Post Office Ltd and Postwatch have been invited to attend the meeting to answer questions.  This item will take the format of a chaired debate.  In addition to the Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission the following have been invited to attend:

 

  • All Members of the Council.
  • The Parish & Town Councils that are affected by a planned Post Office closure.
  • The sub Postmasters affected by a planned Post Office closure.
  • The Local Strategic Partnership Board Members.

 

More information about the change programme, the up-to-date situation, including Breckland Council’s position and activity is available at www.breckland.gov.uk/post_office

Minutes:

This meeting had been convened as an additional single issue meeting to debate the implications of the current consultation for the Norfolk and West Suffolk Area Plan of the Post Office Network Change Programme which was due to conclude on 2 June 2008.  Representatives from Post Office Ltd (POL) and Postwatch had been invited to attend to answer questions.

 

The Chairman opened by explaining the proposed order for the debate and stated that the issue was specific to Breckland in various ways and had been taken very seriously at both elected member and officer level.  The Overview and Scrutiny Commission had established a Post Office Working Group to look into the matter.

 

The Chairman of the working group, Mrs. S.M. Matthews, explained that the working group had looked closely at POL’s proposals.  There were three key questions on which POL was asked to respond (which had been notified to POL in advance of the meeting) in regard to the inappropriateness in a very rural area of a “one size fits all” approach, the limited period allowed for consultation and the high percentage of closures proposed in the district compared to neighbouring areas.

 

The POL representatives were then invited to respond to these three over-arching strategic questions in turn, followed by Members’ and public questions.

 

Question 1:    A one size fits all policy does not work in a rural area – what guarantee can POL provide that the significance of the rural nature of Breckland has been taken into consideration in the proposals?

 

Mr. Grange explained that POL’s plans were based on 47 regional areas nationally and that constituency and area plans covering these areas were taken into account.  National criteria were applied to rural and urban areas alike.  Government guidelines on access criteria did not specify that a post office attached to a shop should not be considered for closure.

 

POL did walk the ground when assessing potential post office closures and did take account of significant issues such as transport.

 

The Chairman, while appreciating what was said, strongly disputed the sense of it and questioned whether it was Government policy or that of POL to carry out closures.

 

Ms. Tarling replied that it was the Government that required POL to close 2,500 outlets and that there should be equality between the numbers of rural and urban closures.  She assured Members that POL did consider issues of distance and access but the assessment criteria was set by the Government (i.e. that 95% of the rural population must be within three miles of a post office).  Under the criteria set by the Government, it was not possible to make distinctions between differing rural areas.  The same assessment process was followed in each case.

 

A member questioned the validity of constituency size and asked how this could be equated when looking at differing areas.  Mr. Grange stated that the breakdown was applied through the criteria for distance and access between post offices as set by Government.

 

Another member then made reference to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Next Meeting

To note the date of the next meeting to be held on Thursday, 29 May 2008.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 29 May 2008 were noted.