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Stamp Them Out

Post Office ProtestLytham saw a protest march recently. It was in support of Mark Bamforth's Warton Street Post Office which is threatened with closure. A lot of people from Lytham and the surrounding area turned up at the appointed hour to demonstrate in protest at the closure.

So why were they there? What were people doing marching in protest?

Protest on Lytham Green

We have no doubt the majority were there to support Mark Bamforth in his hour of need. He is a solid, upright, honourable, honest small shopkeeper whose concern for the community in which he lives is now being repaid by people who use the shop and post office he operates.

Mark is a square peg in a square hole. His service, his manner, and his concern for others, mark him out as a perfect fit into the community he serves, the same community that now rewards him with its support.

For his part, the most he could say was "Thank-you for coming here today". That's not because he couldn't think of anything else to say, but because the disgraceful faceless organisation the Post Office has become, threatened him that if he wanted to say anything else, he would have to have it approved by their press office first.

He was not allowed to display a poster, nor take part in the march himself.

Draconian measures, you might think, for a service run by the UK Government.

The local press said there were 2,000 people assembled. We're not sure about the number, but as our exceptional picture shows, the people-snake led from the Windmill to the edge of the Green, and a great many people did express their opinion, hoping it would make a difference.

But sadly, that's unlikely to be the case.

We joined the protest, and we join with others in hoping it will persuade abandonment of the closure that threatens this office, but if that happens, it will only mean another office - cherished by a similar community elsewhere - will close in its place. And that's not an acceptable alternative.

The closure is going to happen because the decision is nothing to do with need, or the service delivered from Warton Street (or any) Post Office.

No. The real reason for the closure is Article 88 of the European Union's Treaty of Amsterdam which, in 1997, obliged the UK Government to seek the permission of the EU Government before giving what they call "state aid" to the Post Office.

This is the same principle that says we need EU permission to give "State Aid" to the troubled Northern Rock bank, and even then, it could only be given for a limited period. If the UK Government were to continue such 'aid' the EU would impose conditions that downgraded the bank's ability to trade and compete with banks in the commercial sector.

The EU's logic here being that it is no business of Government to interfere with, or compromise the workings of, those wishing to pursue a free market..

This Post Office closure round is the latest salvo in the EU's campaign to destroy the delivery of what we call public services and they categorise as "state aid" - a practice that they (rightly) believe damages the private sector's capacity to produce profit from us.

After lengthy negotiations in 2003, the UK was 'allowed' to provide a subsidy to the Post Office service up to a maximum of £150 million for three years.

Then, because our own Government agreed to close 3,000 sub post offices to comply with the EU's competition rules, the Competition Commissioner agreed the UK could continue the subsidy up to March 2008, (which is why they are all being prepared for closure now).

So whilst we applaud the people of Lytham and surrounding areas for their support, we regret they are probably wasting their time because they have already been sold down the river by successive Governments of different hues who believe that prostrating and prostituting British Common Law (which is possibly the best legal basis in the world) to secure the wider benefits available from our membership of the European club, is a price worth paying

It follows that Mark, and the service he delivers (together with 3,000 other Postmasters like him who currently provide a public service), is expendable, in the face of the wider benefits available from EU membership.

We don't agree of course.

And we will infuriate one of our readers with this view, so apologies in advance, but we're still going to say it anyway.

Given the chance, we would have voted to have Edward Heath tried as a traitor to this country when he knowingly and disgracefully sold out the birthright of British fishermen. And we'd have a few others charged with being a traitor to Britain as well.

We'd not have allowed Mark to be sacrificed on the altar of ever closer union. He, and others like him, are the backbone of this country, and they deserve the sort of support shown by the good residents in Lytham.

If that means telling Europe that we are an island people who will make our own rules for governance, then so be it.

Dated:  18 February 2008


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