MID Cheshire's post office network faces a twin threat to its existence.
Campaigners say plans to scrap Post Office Card accounts in 2010, coupled by an admission from bosses that the system could operate with just a quarter of branches, mean communities, particularly rural areas, could lose their post office.
Eddisbury MP Stephen O'Brien has raised the spectre of the threat following comments by Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, who said 'the system could operate with a quarter of the current branches'.
That would mean almost 11,000 of the remaining 14,000 post offices across the country could close.
Figures obtained by Mr O'Brien from the House of Commons Library show his Eddisbury constituency has already lost two branches since 1999, down from 34 to 32, while the Weaver Vale constituency - whose MP is Labour's Mike Hall - has lost 10, from 27 to 17. Mr O'Brien estimates 23 more in Eddisbury will go, while Weaver Vale could lose as many as 12.
This week he met Robert Dickinson, sub-postmaster at Cuddington, who warned him the village's branch could go the same way as others in Mid Cheshire including Whitegate, Acton Bridge, Norley and Crowton.
Mr O'Brien said: 'Post offices are facing a twin threat - the first is the Government's plans to scrap the Post Office Card accounts, which will lead to a massive loss in revenue for small rural and urban branches.
'This, coupled with Adam Crozier's comments - code for a massive programme of closures - makes it clear the Government doesn't understand the great importance of post offices to community life, or the ability of vulnerable groups such as pensioners and the disabled to access vital services.
'Government initiatives, like forcing pensioners to have their pension paid into a bank account, scrapping the Post Office Card accounts, encouraging people to renew their car tax online, and preventing people renewing their television licences at post offices, will all play a significant part in undermining post offices and put more of them out of business.
'I will fight tooth and nail to defend this vitally important service and call on the Government to withdraw its plans and undertake a review to examine how rather than destroying our post offices we can secure their long-term future.'
Cheshire County Council deputy leader David Rowlands said: 'It must never be forgotten that the local post office has a valuable social role in rural and urban communities.'