NEWS RELEASE : Possible legal challenge to Post Office closures
Dundee City Councillor for the West End, Councillor Fraser Macpherson, tonight revealed that he has been in talks with a senior City Council legal officer about the potential viability of mounting a legal challenge to the decision by Post Office Limited to close four Dundee Post Offices, including two in his own West End ward at Nethergate and Lochee Road.
Cllr Macpherson said that he had today had discussions with a senior City Council officer who was now investigating the viability of a challenge to Post Office Limited’s closure decision.
Cllr Macpherson said, “I believe the so called “consultation process” over the closure proposals was little more than a sham and having now Post Office Limited’s “Area Plan Decision Booklet – North East, Tayside & Fife” which supposedly justifies the decision to close particular Post Offices, I am increasingly convinced that we should not take their decision lying down and at least investigate all avenues in terms of the potential viability of mounting a legal challenge.
“I think the consultation process was fatally flawed, partly in relation to the inappropriately short consultation period of just six weeks. Although the Greater London Authority’s recent attempt to force judicial review in relation to London Post Office closures was rejected by the High Court, what has become clear is that the Cabinet Office’s own guidance states that 12 weeks minimum is good practice for public consultations and therefore Post Office Limited’s six week consultation falls far short of such good practice.
“Furthermore, as another example of the flawed consultation process, in respect of one Post Office (Nethergate in Dundee) - I and others objecting to the closure, including the City Council’s own objection, gave Post Office Limited clear, specific, evidence about customer growth in the future. In its decision booklet, Post Office Limited dismisses this evidence in just one sentence – “Information was also received on several new developments being planned in the area.”
“There is absolutely no explanation as to how Post Office Limited dealt with this evidence and why it dismissed it. In attempting to justify the closure in its decision booklet, Post Office Limited confines its comments to the accessibility issues of the nearest alternative Post Offices. It appears scant – if any – regard has been taken to the evidence presented to it, calling into question the appropriateness of the consultation process,” he continued.
Cllr Macpherson said that, on receipt of the Post Office Limited decision booklet, he immediately wrote to Sally Buchanan, Post Office Limited’s Network Development Manager, asking why the evidence of potential customer growth at Nethergate Post Office was given such scant mention in the decision booklet and why Post Office Limited appears to have ignored or overlooked that evidence. He has also contacted Professor Alan Alexander, Chair of Postwatch Scotland, the independent watchdog for postal services, about the issue.
Cllr Macpherson concluded, “At this stage it is difficult to say whether or not a legal challenge to Post Office Limited would be viable or succeed, but it is important to seek clear legal advice on this matter. I am aware from past cases that several local authorities have successfully worked together on other matters of concern to their citizens and what is abundantly clear from the Post Office Limited decision earlier this week is that people right across the North East, Tayside and Fife are extremely concerned about the large number of Post Office closures right across the whole region.”