Fine Gael Tipperary South TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, Tom Hayes, has called for the role of rural post offices to be expanded so as to enable them to provide a range of Government services including the processing of motor tax renewals and hospital charges as well as water charges, property tax, business rates, rents and other Government payment services.
Deputy Hayes was speaking following the publication of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Report on Promoting a Sustainable Future for the Post Office Network.
“I believe that this report could provide the roadmap for the future of our Post Offices. I am pleased that the report has found that there is scope for post offices to provide a wide range of services to the community.
“I agree with the suggestion that post offices could be expanded to enable them to provide a range of Government services including the processing of motor tax renewals and hospital charges as well as water charges, property tax, business rates, rents and other Government payment services.
“I believe that this could be the way forward to ensure the viability of post offices, especially in rural areas, where there has been a slew of post office closures. For many people the Post Office is the first port of call when an individual seeks to engage with one of the various organs of State.
“By suggesting sustainable alternative uses for post offices, this report points the way for how to best retain the maximum possible number of our 1,150 post offices.
“An extremely important recommendation of the report is that An Post clarify and make public the criteria it uses to establish the viability of post offices. Many rural communities feel that the rug has been pulled from under them when post offices close with what is viewed as insufficient notice. The report recommends the introduction of an amber light warning system, which would give communities, advanced warning that their post office may be vulnerable to closure and engage in consultation with communities before making any final decision regarding closures. I would hope though that with the enhanced role of post offices, that the need for closures of post offices would be diminished.”