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Stone calls for action to stop post office closures in the Highlands and other parts of rural Scotland

By Gordon Calder

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A PLEA has been made by north MP, Jamie Stone, for the Scottish and UK governments to take action to stop "the epidemic of post office closures".

The Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross MP hit out during a debate in Westminster and offered his support to community groups fighting to keep postal services running in rural areas.

Mr Stone referred to the work being done by campaign groups in his constituency to "ensure these lifeline services can continue".

Jamie Stone wants action over closure of rural post offices. Picture: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor
Jamie Stone wants action over closure of rural post offices. Picture: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

However, he stressed that despite such efforts, post office closures continue "to be an epidemic across rural Scotland, despite their services being part of the fabric of society".

"We have had huge trouble with closures of branches," said Mr Stone who pointed out that it was under the rule of Scottish King, King James VI of Scotland, First of England, in 1616 that the Scottish postal service was set up. On the restoration of his grandson King Charles II in 1660, the network of postal services in England was formed.

Speaking after the debate, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: "These communities need urgent support and funding to ensure that postal services can continue to run across the whole of the UK, without being too much of an economic loss to local retail businesses who offer to host Post Offices in their shops.

He added: "I also raised with the Minister that even host shops come with their own problems. Many people go to the Post Office to sort out their pensions and benefits. What do you do if you want to have a confidential conversation, but you've got a queue of people behind you waiting to buy their morning paper? We're rapidly losing safe places where people can have secure, face-to-face conversations.

"The Post Office, and by consequence our communities, desperately need the support of both the Scottish and UK Government."

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