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Parties fight over petition

A ROW has erupted between Rushmoor’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups over the proposed closure of two Aldershot post offices.

The Tories, who are fighting the closure of the post offices in Queen’s Road and St Michael’s Road, have attacked the Liberal Democrats for running a separate campaign of their own.

They claim the Lib Dems did not join forces with them when local Tories organised a petition to stop the closure.

Now both parties are appealing for the public to support their petitions — the Conservatives in the Aldershot’s Wellington ward and the Lib Dems in Manor Park.

Shortly after the Lib Dems announced they were taking up the cause Tory councillor David Clifford said he was disappointed they did not support his own campaign. The petition to date already has 300 signatures.

Cllr Clifford asked: “We’ve already done it, so why don’t they just sign up? Why set up another petition when they could have joined in and supported us?

“In doing this, they’ve made it a political issue — a fight between two parties, when it should be about stopping the post offices closing.”

Cllr Clifford claimed it was no coincidence that the campaign was organised by the prospective Liberal Democrat councillor George Paparesti and prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Aldershot Cllr Adrian Collett.

He also criticised them for taking up the cause after the closing date for a public consultation.

The Post Office had given residents until January 20 to voice their views on the closures.

However, Cllr Collett denied Cllr Clifford’s allegations, saying the initiative was in response to residents in St Michael’s Road asking for help.

He said their petition was to save this post office and was nothing to do with the campaign to save the one in Queen’s Road.

“They came to us because they didn’t think anything was being done. The impression was that the emphasis was on the Queen’s Road branch and so they came to us for help.”

He denied that the move was anything to do with the forthcoming elections.

“It’s nothing to do with that. It’s about saving a vital facility in our community and someone has got to stand up and fight.

“I’m sad the Conservatives are trying to make this party political.”

He said Paparesti was spearheading the St Michael’s Road campaign because he was from Manor Park, used the post office and recognised how important it was to the area.

Mr Collett has complained to the Post Office because the four-week consultation period, which included Christmas and New Year, was not enough for many people to respond to.

A spokesman for the Post Office said closures were necessary across the country because there was not enough business for many sub-post offices to remain viable. Changes to the way benefits are paid are also a factor.

l Last week during a cabinet meeting, Rushmoor Council chief executive Andrew Lloyd revealed a letter from the borough protesting against the proposed closure of two Aldershot branches, which had been sent to the Post Office.

He said: “We do feel very strongly that there is no real clarity as to where these closures fit into the big picture. We want them to come clean on their overall strategy for post offices in this borough.

“The closures are predicted on the fact that business has not been good. But there is the issue that to make post offices viable, you need to grow the offices. In my view, they ought to be looking to develop the business instead of closing them.”


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
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