I write to express serious concern over the future of the post office network in Northern Ireland and the impact it will have on our rural and urban communities.
Last year the Government announced plans to close up to 2,500 post offices by the end of 2008 and last week the Post Office announced, in a public consultation due to last six weeks, that 180 branches across Kent, East Midlands and East Yorkshire were earmarked for closure. This is a sign of things to come for Northern Ireland.
According to the Post Office's website, a six-week consultation will begin in Northern Ireland on April 29, 2008, on which branches the Government has decided will close.
What people must realise is that post offices in isolated rural areas benefit the community and provide vital local services. They are central to the economic and social sustainability of rural communities across the province.
For many people, particularly the elderly, the sick, parents with young families and those without immediate access to transport, the potential closure of so many post offices would have a major negative impact upon them and their everyday lives.
Jim Nicholson, MEP, UUP, European Office, Belfast