Pledge to save remaining post offices in the borough made by politicians

The future of 17 post offices in the borough would be secured under a Labour government, the shadow chancellor has announced.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 8:24 am
Updated Friday, 14th June 2019, 9:24 am
The post office in Wigan town centre which has now closed

They are included on a list of thousands across the UK which the opposition party plans to protect and turn into branches of a publicly-owned high street bank.

Other news: Amazing dad Mark to climb Snowdon in a wheelchairJohn McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has announced a list of around 3,600 post offices which would become “Post Banks” under a Labour government – giving it the largest branch network of any UK bank.

Among them are 17 branches in Wigan.

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The party says that the publicly-owned bank would ensure that every community has easy access to face-to-face, trusted and affordable banking.

It would stem the tide of post office closures, unite important banking, business and community services under one roof and create skilled jobs, Labour said.

Research from the consumer magazine Which? last year showed that the UK lost nearly two-thirds of its bank and building society branches over 30 years, falling from more than 20,000 in 1988 to 7,600 in 2018.

Mr McDonnell said: “We all love our local post offices, and this plan will protect them by giving them a vital extra role – providing our communities with face-to-face banking.

“This is a plan for defending our high streets.

“It keeps post offices safe for years to come and brings footfall back into our town centres.

“Plus it provides finance to local small businesses – especially cooperatives, companies that don’t hurt the environment, and those that do research and development.

“We’re going to take finance out of the hands of the big banks and the speculators – and into the hands of our regions and communities.

“That’s how we’ll rebuild Britain for the many, not the few.”

The Labour Party plans to give £2.5bn of initial funding for the Post Bank, to take over services currently offered through Post Office Money and end the existing partnership with Bank of Ireland UK.

As well as offering banking services to individuals, it would provide services to small businesses, Labour said.

The 17 post office branches which would be saved in Wigan are: Ashton-in-Makerfield, Aspull Moor, Atherton, Beech Hill, Golborne, Hindley, Ince, Leigh, Lowton, Platt Bridge, Standish, Tyldesley, Westleigh, Whelley, Wigan, Wigan Lane and Winstanley.

Only earlier this month Wigan’s general post office on Wallgate closed its doors for the final time, despite a wave of protests from the public and local politicians.

A new post office desk has, however, opened up to compensate in the WHSmith store on Standishgate.

But the borough has lost more than a dozen village and town post offices in the last two decades due to an increasing number of transactions having become easier to perform online and as a result custom has steadily fallen.

The same purge has taken place in the high street banking sector for the same reason.

But some residents, especially older ones on low incomes who cannot afford or struggle to grasp the new technology, have been strongly opposing the decline - often to no avail.