Feb 22, 2008
Gareth Epps, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary campaigner for Reading East and Councillor for Katesgrove, is to examine taking legal action to save at least one Reading Post Office, as news emerged today (22 February) that all five Post Offices in Reading that were threatened with closure will close.
The announcement today follows an extensive campaign by local Liberal Democrats which saw over 2000 petition signatures collected against the closures in Reading East, and residents supplied with details of how to make their own representations against the closures. Alone among political parties in Reading the Liberal Democrats also sought to get Council backing for the campaign against the cuts – but opposition to the closures was voted down by an unholy alliance of Labour and the Conservatives.
Commenting on the closure announcement, Gareth said:-
“This is a disgrace. It is a direct attack on Reading’s communities by the Labour Government that forced this closure programme through against overwhelming public opinion.
Liberal Democrats and local residents deplore these closures. They have been railroaded by a Government which is continuing to destroy the Post Office Network and does not care about our communities.
The most vulnerable in our communities will be hit hardest when these much-loved institutions are forced to close. All the evidence that some of Reading’s most vulnerable communities will be disadvantaged by the closures has been ignored – not just by Post Office Ltd but by Reading Borough Council and indeed by Postwatch. It is clear that the consultation exercise was riddled with errors and was beneath contempt.
Labour’s crocodile tears on the closures are hard to take. Labour politicians appeared in photos ‘opposing’ the closures locally and doing nothing in Parliament to save the Post Office network from their own Government.
The Tories emerge with no credit, either, after they sided with Labour at the Council in blocking our move for the Council to clearly oppose Post Office closures in Reading. Labour and the Tories on Reading Borough Council pulled the rug from under these Post Offices by failing to formally oppose their closure.
I am actively looking into commencing Judicial Review proceedings regarding Basingstoke Road. The closure process in this case was clearly based on false premises regarding access to other branches. There may be grounds for action to be taken against other closures.
It was left to the Lib Dems to send a message to the Post Office: stop the closures! I will not stop until I am certain that all possible avenues have been exhausted to prevent Labour’s attack on Reading’s communities.”