PROFIT RULES, and service can go to the dogs-more than 1,600 post offices face closure after a review of the £150 million a year subsidy that sustains the rural network. A fifth of rural post offices may shut as a result of the review by the government and its regulator, Postcomm. The subsidy is due to run out at the beginning of 2006.
The regulator says that only post offices with more than 2,000 customers a week make a profit. Mass closures would not only remove the local post office but also disrupt the delivery network in rural areas. The unpublished proposals have been put forward by Postcomm to the government. Number Ten is directly involved in the process and some of Blair's advisers don't want any decision until after the general election.
Ministers are already taking political flak over the closure of 3,000 urban post offices. There are 8,197 rural post offices left, a fall of over 1,000 since 1998-9.