Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cause for Concern

Two things have caused me concern over the last couple of days. On Friday I read in the local paper that the main post office in Hanley (the city centre) was to be closed sometime during the next 18 months and the service moved into W. H. Smith. Hanley is one of two remaining Crown post offices left in North Staffordshire the other is my local post office at Longton so if the closure in Hanley goes ahead what chance has the one at Longton got? Both of these post offices are widely used and there are always long queues, so how, with the best will in the world, is W.H. Smith going to cope? The closure in Hanley will mean the loss of twenty three jobs. How many of those jobs will move to W. H. Smith? Perhaps three or four at the most? It’s no surprise, then, that the post office union leaders are up in arms. The present Hanley post office is close to the city centre and just a short walk from the bus station and car parks. W. H. Smith is on the second floor of the Potteries Shopping Centre reached by lift or escalators. How are the elderly, infirm or disabled going to get there easily? Young mums with buggies are going to struggle too. It may make economic sense for various reasons to the powers that be – but it isn’t a lot of use to the customers, is it?

Then today I read some more disturbing news, namely that the BBC, as part of a cost cutting exercise, may axe their regional news programmes. Axe their regional news programmes? Are they mad? I really find this hard to contemplate but if it did happen I think it would be extremely short sighted of them. I love my regional news programme, Midlands Today, the presenters are excellent and the coverage and content of the programmes is wide ranging and informative. I sit down every evening at 6.30p.m. with my after dinner cup of coffee to find out what has been going on in the area and I much prefer the BBC programme to the Central News on the other channel. I would be lost without it.

You could say that I 'm anxious about these things because I’m getting older and set in my ways and therefore don’t react very well to change but if change is for the better then I don’t mind, I can cope with it; but I have to say that the two things above seem to me to be, not only a step backwards, but a whole leap in the wrong direction.

Whilst I'm having a moan can I add call centres? We've been having great problems with our internet service provider especially with uploading things like photos to the internet - we've rung three or four times and got nowhere - we think we may need a new modem, they blame our computer; either way they are really unhelpful. They stick rigidly to a set script and won't deviate from it, no one is prepared to take the initiative and go straight to the problem and sort it out. This is one change I do find difficult - the days of being able to ring an engineer and talk through the problem and solve it either by 'phone or with a home visit are long gone.

I have lovely photos of yesterday's outing but I can't get them into my Picassa web album until we can get things sorted.


  1. I know what you mean. Like you I am a great fan of the BBC regional news here in the East Midlands and, like you, I deplore the closing of not just rural post offices but those in our cities and towns as well. I am afraid this is what happens when you embrace the 'free market' capitalist economy and those who rule us know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

    You cannot blame the Post Office for what is happening. A so-called Labour government, which I reluctantly support (because I have excellent Labour councillors and MP) makes pensioners get bank accounts on which they have to pay charges. It then allows multi-national corporations to cream off postal collection and delivery services in large cities and towns, but expects the Post Office to continue delivering rural mail for a fixed charge. These capitalist companies pay their worker lower wages and further undermine the Post Office. I am afraid that until ordinary people realise the damage being done to society by capitalism things will get worse. I do believe this will get better, but than I am a Socialist and that makes me an optimist. In the meantime, to have the occasional rant does help!

  2. I tend to agree, whilst ever shareholders have to be paid, re-investment, service to customers and general workers' salaries take a back seat. Most of the companies that have been 'privatised' like for instance, those in the transport or public utility services are far worse than they used to be, very unreliable and top heavy with management.