Tag Archives: post office

Ed Davey talks to Today about the Horizon scandal

Ed Davey was interviewed on the Today programme  this morning about his actions as postal affairs minister during the Horizon scandal.

The BBC had obtained a briefing from civil servants to Ed in which he was advised to meet Alan Bates “for presentational reasons” and not to make any commitments to him.

Ed made the point that he had wanted to meet Alan Bates anyway after Bates’ second letter to him and, after that meeting, he had questioned the Post Office, who had lied to him. He added that it wasn’t until the BBC interviewed a whistleblower from Fujitsu in August 2015, long after he had left his post, that there was any hard evidence to go on about the problems with Horizon.

He also talked about how he had been calling for an independent enquiry and speedy compensation since 2015.

From the BBC:

However, Sir Ed told the BBC’s Today programme it “wasn’t the case” that he had agreed to meet Mr Bates because of potential bad publicity.

“That’s what the officials put in the submission to me just before the meeting, but I wanted to meet him because after his second letter, I felt I should hear his concerns,” he said.

Sir Ed said he was the first minister to meet Mr Bates and added he took his concerns “very seriously”. “When I put those concerns to the Post Office, concerns about the Horizon IT system, I’m afraid I was lied to,” he said. With a general election coming up, Sir Ed said he had not considered stepping down as Liberal Democrat leader.

“When I go out there campaigning, we’re finding incredible results in seats that only we can beat the Conservatives in,” he said. “The party is very keen for us to fight this election really hard under my leadership.”

Those of you who haven’t read Ed’s Guardian article from last week in which he recognised and apologised for his failure to see through the lies he had been told can do so here.

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Farron: Victims of Post Office scandal need compensation, not being weaponised by the Tories

The ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office has highlighted the dreadful injustice suffered by so many sub postmasters, as John Barrett outlined yesterday.

I haven’t seen it yet, but I know it will be very uncomfortable to watch. Yet again in my lifetime, something has gone very wrong with a public service and it takes too long for the victims to be taken seriously. Windrush, Hillsborough, numerous health scandals are just a handful of others. Government needs to find a way of being much quicker to react when things go wrong and not just dismiss concerns until they are forced to deal with them, usually with the involvement of the judicial system.

We’ve seen several instances in the past few days of right wing commentators (former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, not known for his listening to people complaining of injustice) among them have decided that this is a good opportunity to have a go at the Lib Dem ministers responsible for the postal service who were in office rather than talk about a way forward.

A letter from Ed Davey saying that he didn’t see what a meeting with the sub postmasters would achieve is being circulated. It’s dated 21st May 2010, which is a few days after he became a Minister. He actually did meet them in October of that year.

In the Guardian this week, Ed was reported as saying that he regretted not doing more when he was a Minister, honesty which is perhaps refreshing in an environment where people try to deflect blame on to others.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “I feel that I was deeply misled by Post Office executives … they didn’t come clean. There were definitely attempts to stop me meeting .

“We were clearly misled. I think ministers from all political parties were misled.”

In terms of what happens next he said:

Davey said Post Office executives were now “dragging their feet” and “not bringing evidence to the inquiry”.

He added: “Government ministers need to do more – I hope they watch this series and realise they’ve got to come forward with a proper compensation package.”

In an interview on BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning Alan Bates was given many opportunities to stick the boot in to Ed specifically by the interviewer and didn’t take the chance  to single him out.

Tim Farron took to Twitter last night to make some observations about the scandal, the current Tory blame game and what should happen next.

He said:

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Justice and Truth for the Sub-Postmasters

For many years Liberal Democrats, like me, campaigned against the closure of Post Office branches, as we believed that every community which loses its local Post Office is poorer in a number of ways. They provided not only essential postal and banking services, but also a social hub and a lifeline for many, who did not have a bank account or access to the internet.

Ironically, those Sub-Postmasters whose Post Offices did close escaped the risk of being caught up in what has been described as the greatest ever miscarriage of justice in Britain, with several hundred innocent people losing their life savings, being made bankrupt and homeless, and in some cases losing their lives, because of the lies told and outdated powers that the Post Office used to prosecute – without the involvement of the Police. Many were falsely accused of fraud because of the determination by the Post Office to cover up an IT problem, which was known about for years.

This long running saga has once again come to the public’s attention with the broadcast of the television series, Mr Bates v The Post Office, which has retold the story as a drama which has left people shocked and outraged at the action of the Post Office, the Government and the legal system. With a number of heroes and leading the villains, the Post Office’s CEO at the time, Paula Vennells.  

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Majority of Lib Dem members back Vince’s Royal Mail privatisation plans

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Royal Mail privatisation backed by 55% to 41%

The Government has announced plans to privatise Royal Mail. 90% of shares will be made available for purchase by the public, with 10% given to postal service employees for free. To what extent do you support or oppose plans to privatise the Royal Mail?

    16% – Strongly support

    39% – Tend to support

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Opinion: A radical idea for the post office network

Isle of Iona Post Office, Scotland - Some rights reserved by Freddie H.A typical Saturday morning in the Thorpe household typically involves me meandering, in my usual untidy fashion, to one of the menagerie of corner shops which cosset Hammersmith high street from the unkempt collection of bookmakers, pawnbrokers and fast food joints which seem to be the fate of most urban centres.

From the shop, I will descend to the most desolate corner of a quiet bar and languidly let the tensions of the week be traduced by …

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Norman Lamb: “I am incredibly excited by the prospect of establishing a mutual Post Office”

Following a consultation, the government has announced its intention to press ahead with proposals to mutualise Post Offices. Here’s what Norman Lamb – who has previously set out his vision for the future of Post Offices here on the Voice – had to say, as reported by the Independent:

Post Office branches are relied upon by communities the length and breadth of the country.

That is why we have committed £1.34 billion of funding to the business and why there will be no closure programme under this Government. I want to make sure that the Post Office becomes a successful

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Norman Lamb writes… Putting two national treasures back on their feet

Royal Mail and the Post Office are two of our most recognisable and most trusted brands. For hundreds of years the post office has been at the heart of our communities – with a value that goes beyond mere economics to the social and the symbolic. Royal Mail, meanwhile, is a service that covers every part of the country and reaches every part of society. The public, quite rightly, is fiercely protective of both institutions.

Sadly previous governments left them both in a mess. Labour opened up the postal market, thereby exposing Royal Mail to the full force of competition. Ludicrously, …

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Opinion: Is the Post Office safe in your hands, Mr Davey?

Editor’s note: the author of this post has requested to remain anonymous, but his identity is known to me.

I write as a lifelong Liberal/Lib Dem and former councillor. I am sadly having to remain anonymous so that my wife is not made subject to reprisals for my views.

Lib Dem Voice recently claimed the future of the Post Office network is secure. I would like to present a counter (sic) viewpoint.

My wife took on a Post Office 10 years ago and her guaranteed monthly salary then was £620. Now, its £800 for a 48-hour working week – less than £3.70 …

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Dealing with Labour’s mess, Part 93: Lib Dems secure future of post offices

Remember the last Labour government’s record on post offices? Their numbers fell by more than 7,100, or 38%. But not any more, as a result of Lib Dem action within the Coalition — as Lib Dem Voice first reported here almost 18 months ago.

This is how the Press Association reports it:

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Tavish gives conference a postal guarantee

Tavish Scott, leader of the Lib Dems in Scotland, bravely took the stage on a wet Sunday morning at Liberal Demcrat conference, and gave a cast iron guarantee from Vince Cable on the Royal Mail and Post Office, following from the recent Government announcement that the Lib Dem policy to privatise Royal Mail whilst keeping the Post Offices in public ownership .

The reason behind privatising Royal Mail (the letter-delivering part) is to give it the ability to raise funds from private sources to modernise and improve, to challenge its private competitors.

The commitment from  from Vince Cable is:

1. Universal service obligation …

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Royal Mail privatisation – another Lib Dem policy delivered

Among the Stricty Come Dancing banter on Twitter yesterday evening, I picked up some Labour activists attacking the Lib Dems. Nothing new there, you might think.

The attack was that the Lib Dems had betrayed our principles, done a u-turn and were privitising the Post Office.

I think we’re all familiar enough with Labour attacks by now to check those facts before jumping to any conclusions. And it turns out that the attack is wrong in every single respect.

The Government is not proposing to privatise the Post Office. And what’s being proposed, far from being a u-turn, is Lib …

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Novel post office campaign

It’s not just UK post offices that are at risk of closure and taking steps to campaign to keep themselves open, as this story from Florida reveals:

Residents of a Florida town are sending coconuts to the U.S. postmaster general as postcards asking him to reconsider the closing of their post office.

Locals in Lantana and surrounding areas said they are mailing coconuts, which cost about $4 postage, to Postmaster General John Potter with marker messages asking him to reconsider the planned closing of the small Lantana post office, one of three in Florida’s Palm Beach County marked for closing by the Postal Service, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported Thursday.

Posted in LDVUSA and News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Daily View 2×2: 7 July 2009

2 3 Big Stories

US and Russia agree nuclear cuts

The BBC reports:

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have reached an outline agreement to cut back their nations’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The “joint understanding” signed in Moscow would see reductions of deployed nuclear warheads to below 1,700 each within seven years of a new treaty. The accord would replace the 1991 Start I treaty, which expires in December.

Nick Clegg welcomed the announcement:

This decision is a great moment and a promising step ahead of next year’s NPT talks. Britain must now play our own part

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Pugh sticks up for posties sacked for not wearing cycle helmets

The Express has the story:

ROYAL Mail bosses were branded draconian yesterday after sacking three postmen in a week – for not wearing cycle helmets. They were accused of adhering rigidly to ­guidelines to cut staff and slash costs ahead of ­privatisation. Many others also face disciplinary action ­following the clampdown in Southport, Merseyside. Several have launched an appeal to be re-instated. Father-of-two David Smith was dismissed after 17 years.

Southport Lib Dem MP John Pugh believes the posties have been treated unfairly:

The only one at risk for not wearing a helmet is the postman himself – so why is

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Opinion: Postal Ballot – to save the Post Office we need to revisit the cooperative movement

Saving the local Post Office from closure, and the Royal Mail from privatisation, has long been a serious issue on the campaign trail for traditionalists and progressives alike.

At this time – when private banks have ceased lending to sound customers and many urban and rural areas are excluded altogether from essential public utility services – these causes take on a more acute tone. At the risk of schadenfreude at Labour’s calamitous handling of these essential institutions, let’s examine just how the government’s proposals for the postal service fail to deliver (apologies, I couldn’t help it!).

Hardly anyone would deny that the Royal Mail faces pressure to modernise and to compete with commercial services, and that to keep pace with an ever-changing communications landscape some restructuring is required. The question is how this is best achieved, how to prioritise disparate facets of the service from universal postal coverage to banking and civil services.

According to the accepted Westminster doctrine, established some 15 years ago and remaining today, competition is the key. Ask the Royal Mail to compete for business with private sector providers and its efficiency will increase, the customer will win.

The problem is, private sector providers are able to cherry-pick juicy corporate contracts and profitable speciality deliveries, leaving the public sector to ensure that Mrs. Jones’ birthday card gets from Weston-super-Mare to Wick on time and intact. Not only this, the underfunded Royal Mail has little capacity to invest in modern infrastructure and facilities.

As befits the current administration, their response is to part-privatise the Royal Mail and sell off hundreds of Post Offices, hoping that the private sector will still serve communities whilst turning a handy profit. Unsurprisingly this is not a popular proposal; so much so that as many as 150 Labour MPs are expected to vote against their own party’s policy, risking turmoil for an already beleaguered leadership.

As far as the Conservatives are concerned Labour’s policy doesn’t go far enough, some Tory MPs favouring a complete sell-off; however they may still support a part-privatisation in the knowledge that they can always complete the job themselves in a few months time.

To avoid the embarrassment of relying on Tory votes to pass this reform into law, a desperate Downing Street scramble has unfolded in the last few days, with Compass chair Neal Lawson apparently failing to get the rebel MPs to agree on a not-for-profit model for the Royal Mail along the lines of Network Rail. Without this compromise the government must steel itself for defeat, potentially scuppering the chances of both postal reform and of Gordon Brown lasting until next June as PM.

So what of the Liberal Democrats – how would we do things differently?

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 12 Comments

Not a good day to be a press officer for the Metropolitan police

First your former Commissioner announces the result of the Diana enquiry, then a couple of hours later your colleagues announce they’ve been knocking on the PM’s door. And all over lunch time too.  It’s just not cricket.

And all this on the day the government announces the likely closure of 2500 Post Offices.  While the latter will have by far and away the greatest impacts on the lives of “ordinary people”, there’s barely a dicky-bird in the press.

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Lib Dems call for Post Office restrictions to be lifted to save our Post Offices

Commenting on reports that half the country’s post offices might be shut, Liberal Democrat Shadow DTI Secretary Edward Davey MP said:

Ministers’ claims that post offices must close in their thousands are simply wrong.

These closures have been Government driven as ministers have taken away businesses like pensions, TV licences and passports.

Post offices can be viable if they are set free from Royal Mail restrictions on who they can trade with and given investment boosts to embrace new technologies and fresh business ideas.

We need less buck passing from ministers and more determination to save our post offices which are so crucial

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