POSTMASTERS across the area have warned their MP of new concerns about their future.

Fleet MP James Arbuthnot spent a day touring post offices in his constituency to hear of their concerns following the recent introduction of the government’s initiative to see benefits and pensions paid directly into bank accounts rather than over the counter.

During his tour, which included post offices in Crookham Village, Odiham and South Warnborough, Mr Arbuthnot heard from worried postmasters and customers.

“The village post office plays a crucial role in the life of all the villages I visited,” said the Tory MP.

“We have lost too many in the past and I am determined to do all I can to protect those we still have.

“I was concerned that the government’s plans to discourage the payment of benefits and pensions over the counter would undermine the financial viability of many local post offices.

“During my visits my worst fears were confirmed. Not only do the postmasters expect to see their businesses suffer directly, they also fear the knock-on effect on other sales as less people visit their stores.

“The government must do more to simplify the process for those who wish to be paid over the counter and they must take action to ensure that this is not the final nail in the coffin of our post offices.

“I am making these concerns clear to the minister responsible.”