The public has long had a love affair with ‘their’ post office. So the suggestion carried in the Guardian http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/oct/01/post-office-john-lewis-royal-mailto create a Post Office Mutual could perhaps capture a nation’s passion for local post offices.
Co-operatives have a long track record of serving local communities – from co-operative shops on islands across the UK through to a resurgence of village shops saved from closing through community ownership.
However, there will be no mutual option for the Post Office if there is no credible business plan. The withdrawal of subsidy, the demerger from the Royal Mail business and a question mark over levels of government services directed through the post office network are all fundamental issues that have to be resolved before a mutual solution can ‘save the Post Office’.
Cutting red tape and freeing up local postmasters and franchises, including co-operative societies that are partners, can also help make local outlets more viable.
Reforming the Post Office will take time, and will involve both the renaissance of its business fortunes as well as serious effort in developing its membership base – built from the bottom up, not the top down. A mutual Post Office might take some time to realise but could pay dividends both to the staff but also the country as a whole.