Thousands of postmasters yesterday converged on Westminster to demand that the government saves as many as a third of post offices from closure, delivering a petition from four million people to Downing Street.
The appeal, said to be the largest ever domestic petition, urges ministers to continue subsidising the network and reverse the decision to phase out the Post Office card account, one of the network’s largest sources of income.
The number of outlets has already fallen from 18,000 in 1999 to 14,000. But the network is losing £200m a year and ministers have made it clear that more branches must shut.
Alistair Darling, the trade and industry secretary, has promised to announce plans for the future of post offices within weeks. But yesterday he ruled out the Royal Mail’s estimate that a sustainable network would consist of around 4,000 branches.