Postal services are ’withering on the vine’, it was claimed in the House of Keys.

The accusation came from Tim Baker (Ayre and Michael) as he and other MHKs slammed the decision to terminate a contract with Santander UK for processing the bank’s customers’ deposits and withdrawals at sub post offices.

Post Office chairman Julie Edge insisted the service was proving a loss-maker for post offices. She added talks were continuing with Santander.

In the light of disputes with post workers and concern at sub-post office closures, Mr Baker questioned what would be left for Ms Edge to include in the Post Office strategy she is due to present to Tynwald later this year.

’We are heading here for an Isle of Man Post Office service which is withering on the vine,’ he warned. ’By the time the chairman comes to the other place in October to present the vision there will be nothing left of it.’

The contract terminates on April 22 and the issue was raised after by Rob Callister (Onchan), who demanded a statement from Ms Edge, his constituency colleague.

He said: ’Most public houses on the Isle of Man actually bank through the Post Office and Santander, along with many other convenience stores, newsagents etc. This will be business lost after April 22.

’These public houses and other businesses also generate a considerable amount of cash and this cash is used in the post office to pay pensions, child benefits and other allowances.’

Ms Edge said: ’Broader corporate services provided to Santander UK had diminished and our internal and external costs had increased, making the provision for the cash deposit service loss-making for Isle of Man Post Office.

’Since giving notice, Isle of Man Post Office have sought to work with the provider to explore alternative ways of sustaining the service in a financially responsible way.’

It is understood the Post Office demanded an increase in the commission it received, but Ms Edge refused to enter into details or give a breakdown of what the current arrangement was worth to individual post offices because the contract was still in effect.

She added: ’Isle of Man Post Office does not only deal with Santander Bank, we deal with other international banks.

’I am quite surprised really that the member thinks that IoMPO should be running a service that was actually loss-making to IoMPO.’

But Mr Callister remained unimpressed: ’Can I ask her if she can please ensure to switch off the lights when she has finished closing all the sub-post offices?’

Source: IoMToday