The Post Office is currently running some local consultations that I would like to help make people aware of, regarding changes to provision in Yeovil and Shepton Beauchamp. It’s important that local people know and have their say to make sure that important services are accessible to those who need them. The moves will mean the Post Offices sharing sites with local shops, WHSmith in Yeovil and Angies Village shop & Tea Room in Shepton Beauchamp.
A fair few people have raised concerns with me about this and it’s understandable. Post Offices can be a cornerstone of village life and are a reassuring presence in a changing world. High Streets and local shops are important to an area which is why I have been campaigning for a reduction in Business Rates and was very pleased to see that formed part of the recent Budget. They can also tend to be used more often by people who don’t like to travel far for whatever reason, or those who don’t like to use online services.
I have been in regular touch with the Post Office to understand how the changes, which are similar to others as part of a national remodelling programme, will affect people and how they will ensure that people that rely on their services will be looked after. The good news is that the shared premises mean longer opening hours and offer a more open and friendly counter set-up which is popular. In general, what used to be a weekly trip to the Post Office is a less common experience for people these days and this is a move to offer the same services but in a financially sustainable way in the centre of our communities for the long term. I support that and I have put on record with the Government my support for our Postmasters who work tirelessly and rightly take great pride in their work.
This week in the House of Commons I have twice raised an important issue for our defence manufacturers. Because of the way the current Backstop proposals in the EU Withdrawal Agreement are drafted it appears that our defence manufacturers might not be exempt from blanket provisions requiring permission for state aid, and the European Court of Justice would be involved in judging whether they should be exempt. EU member states do have a clear Treaty exemption, so in essence their governments might be able to support their defence industries in ways that we could not, which could be damaging for the competitiveness of our companies. I was not satisfied with the answers I received from the Prime Minister or Defence Secretary on this issue so have written to the latter to ask for clarification as a matter of urgency. Whilst some of the Brexit debate is around sovereignty and can seem academic, areas such as this can directly affect business, jobs and wellbeing in the South West and that is why it is so important we get it right.
As always, if you would like to get in touch about these or any other issues, or to book an appointment at one of my regular advice surgeries throughout the constituency, please do email email@example.com or call 01935314321.