BOROUGH MP Andrew Miller has denied charges of “hypocrisy” regarding Post Office closures.
He was accused of putting the Labour Party’s interests above those of his constituents after campaigning locally to save Ellesmere Port’s crown Post Office and two branches open, then seemingly voting to the contrary in Parliament.
A Conservative Party Motion – called an Opposition Day Debate – put to the House of Commons last week was supported by the Lib Dems, Independents and Nationalist parties. It called for the postponement of all Post Office closures until there had been a full review and public consultation.
Myles Hogg, the Tory group leader on the borough council, said: “The hypocrisy of the local MP in campaigning to save local Post Offices, then voting in Parliament against the proposal to halt further closures, is breathtaking.
“Prior to the May 2005 General Election, when I had the honour to be the Conservative candidate, Mr Miller and I stood in our opposition to the closure of the Westminster Post Office, the subsequent closure of the main crown Post Office in Civic Square and the sub-Post Office in Whitby Road.
“Why then, when given an opportunity to halt further closures up and down the country, has he done a complete about-face?”
The latest round of Post Office closures across the UK earlier this year only saw one casualty in this borough, with the closure of Parkgate PO.
Stuart Penketh, the borough’s current Tory parliamentary candidate, said: “These proposals (in Parliament) were recognised by all the opposition parties to actually have a chance of protecting our threatened post offices. If this had motion had been passed, we could have saved Parkgate PO.”
But Mr Miller responded by calling this national Tory campaign “short-term political opportunism”.
He added: “I wanted to know in the debate what are the solutions, because no-one has found a complete solution to this dilemma.
“Back when the Crown Post office closed in Ellesmere Port, I said this should not be a party political issue, but the Tories are making it party political knock-about.”
Mr Miller said the Government actually invested £1.7bn in supporting the Post Office network.
And though they established rules about Post Offices being within a certain distance from each other, they cannot change the “economic reality” that people need to keep using Post Offices, and for them to offer different services, to ensure their vitality, he added.