PO axing: too early for any buy-out’

PUBLISHED: 16:45 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:55 10 June 2010

EAST Devon s Post Office Champion Ken Potter has said that any bid to buy out local branches to save them from closure cannot even be discussed until May – for fear of breaching a confidentiality agreement.

EAST Devon's 'Post Office Champion' Ken Potter has said that any bid to buy out local branches to save them from closure cannot even be discussed until May - for fear of breaching a confidentiality agreement.

District councillor Ken Potter's comments came after Essex County Council confirmed last week that it is negotiating a buy-out price from the Post Office in the hope of saving up to 15 of the 31 branches that have recently shut down across the county.

Eighteen per cent of the network, 14,000 branches, are earmarked for closure nationwide in a bid to stem losses of £4 million a week.

But, when asked if a debate on the pros and cons of a buy out of East Devon's 45 branches would happen, Cllr Potter said they could not even think about discussing it until the end of the branch consultation process that began last month and will finish on May 20.

He said any talks would compromise the compensation packages for any of the 45 sub-postmasters who might lose their jobs in East Devon - despite public money of £150 million a year used to subsidise the service.

Up eight could close, but Cllr Potter said: "I don't think it will be that many because of the access criteria, one of which is that people should be no more than three miles away from a service.

"That could mean that a service could be mobile or set up at a village hall.

"East Devon is keen to assist to make sure that post offices in East Devon are financially viable and self-sufficient.

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