When news happens, text AND and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Subpostmasters knock sell off plans
Controversial plans to privatise the Royal Mail has come under fresh attack after subpostmasters were urged to refuse to stock information on how the public can buy shares.
The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) attacked a bid by the Post Office to ask its members to promote the sell off.
The normally moderate federation said the Post Office was set to contact several thousand post offices in the coming days requesting they stock materials for the public on how to buy Royal Mail shares.
The federation urged its members to reject the call, pointing out that a privatised Royal Mail could be "catastrophic" for the post office network.
The NFSP has joined other groups in calling for a halt to the privatisation plans, warning that the government has failed to deliver a secure future for the UK's post offices.
A third of all income earned by subpostmasters comes from sales of Royal Mail products and the NFSP predicts "mass" post office closures if that income is jeopardised.
NFSP General Secretary George Thomson said: "I am surprised and angered by POL's request for subpostmasters to act against their own interests by encouraging the public to back the sale by buying shares.
"Subpostmasters are acutely aware that ministers are taking a reckless gamble with the future of our post offices by selling off Royal Mail. The government has completely failed to fulfill its pledge to make post offices the 'front office for government', offering face-to-face access to a wide range of central and local government services.
"Instead, the reality is that subpostmasters are now earning less from government services than they were three years ago, and as a result are more dependent than ever on income from Royal Mail services. That is why we have called on our members to reject this request, and not to touch the promotion of this privatisation with a barge pole."
A Business Department spokesman said: "As part of a Royal Mail share sale, members of the public will be able to apply for shares in a number of ways, including through stockbrokers and direct from the Government. We are in preliminary discussions with Post Office Ltd about making printed material for the share sale available to the public through some post offices. The Government is fully committed to modernising the Post Office network and to safeguarding its future."