News that seven post offices across Gwent will share more than £695,000 funding from the National Assembly is to be welcomed. The Post offices in Abercan, Usk, Henllys, Pentwyn, Bulwark (in Chepstow), Risca, and Corporation Road in Newport will all receive a share of the money, which is aims to help develop and expand their business and provide new services to their communities, under the Post Office Diversification Fund. Another 41 post offices across Wales will also benefit from a share of the money in the near future. This is a positive small step which will help to undo some of the damage inflicted by the previous New Labour and Conservative administrations in past years.
It is worth remembering that between October 2007 and January 2009 around 2,500 Post Offices were closed across the UK, of which 216 Post Offices were closed here in Wales – mostly but not exclusively in rural areas. There were 971 Post Offices (2008 / 2009) in Wales; Post Offices were closed at a faster rate here in Wales than in other areas of the UK, with a 13% reduction in Post Offices in Wales in 2009, which compared to 12.3% in England, 9.75% in Scotland and only 7.61% in Northern Ireland. During the New Labour years some 4,000 Post offices were closed, some 3,000 Post offices were closed by the previous Conservative administration.
Most people and most political parties recognise that Post Offices play a vital roll at the heart of their communities and are real lifelines to vulnerable people. The Post Office Diversification Fund is planned to run for three years and has been set up to offer help and advice with advertising, marketing, business advice, training and setting up new services for customers. The fund can also help with improving access, security and upgrading computer equipment, etc. This is the result of a Plaid driven One Wales Government helping to deliver improvements to important services in our communities, which makes a pleasant change by way of comparison with recent Westminster Governments.