THE council is backing the next steps in the campaign to reopen three Post Offices in Wirral.

The campaigns to reopen three Wirral Post Offices have been given the backing of Wirral Council, following closure of branches at Grove Road in Wallasey, Saughall Bridge in Moreton, and Upton.

Councillors Jenny Johnson (West Kirby & Thurstaston) and Lesley Rennie (Wallasey) sought all-party support to put pressure on the Post Office, following appeals by residents and businesses affected by the closures.

Now, following a vote at this week’s meeting of all 66 councillors, the authority is putting its weight behind the calls.

Councillor Jenny Johnson said: “Between 1997 and 2010, some 7,462 post offices around the country were closed, leaving many residents without access to a post office and putting further pressure on retail areas as yet more services were withdrawn.

“Together with the Horizon IT scandal, this has had a devastating effect on the owners, the staff and their customers. This week’s decision by Wirral Council will, we hope, put additional pressure on the Post Office management to rethink the closures.”

In Wallasey Village, more than 1,000 residents have backed the campaign.

Councillor Lesley Rennie added: “The state-owned Post Office needs to be reminded why it received substantial taxpayer support. Since 2010, 11,500 branches have been kept open and, in the last few years, we’ve actually seen a net increase in numbers.

“This disproves the claims by the Post Office that the closures are for economic reasons. We are grateful for the support of all four parties in the Council for this latest stage of our campaign and we once again urge the Post Office to reopen all three branches.”

The motion which was passed during last night’s meeting (Monday, March 18) stated that the  council “recognises the immense distress, anguish and grievance caused by the Horizon scandal for Post Masters and Post Mistresses, their families, staff and the wider community”.

It continued: “Council believes the stress upon post office employees since the introduction of the Horizon IT system will have contributed to many choosing to leave their roles, accounting for some of the 7,462 branches which closed between 1997 and 2010.

“Council notes that since 2010, and in return for its government funding, the Post Office has been required to invest in the network, and maintain around 11,500 branches with no further substantive reductions.

“Council therefore expresses its grave concern that post offices in Wirral, including Ford Road (Upton), Saughall Bridge (Moreton) and Grove Road (Wallasey), have been closed, causing hardship and difficulties to residents and local businesses.

“Council thanks those who are campaigning for these branches to reopen, including 1,035 residents who have signed a petition for Grove Road Post Office to reopen and the Upton Village Community Group who have written directly to the Post Office.

“Council requests the Chief Executive to express these concerns to the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Post Office, and that all Group Leaders similarly write to the Postal Affairs Minister.

“Council also notes the request by the Chair of the Audit & Risk Management Committee for Council to also consider whether any of the recommendations following the independent Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry can also be applied to processes within the Authority, including from Phase Five of the Inquiry starting in April, regarding internal and external audit, technical competence, stakeholder engagement, oversight and whistleblowing.”