Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Local Post Offices

Local Post Offices are a vital link for communities to access services this is particularly true in Delyn which has a large rural community. Around 65% of rural communities have a Post Office, whereas only 10% have a bank branch. The large majority of rural branches are loss-making and it costs £3 million a week to sustain the rural network however, this does not take into account the additional cost of making sure that services are accessible to the vulnerable, elderly or those with young children who will have to get on a bus or into a car in order to access these services in the future. 85% of the rural population live within 2 kilometres of a Post Office - in urban areas this is 99%. Yet rural post offices are likely to be hardest hit.

The closure programe will not just affect rural communities, with the current price of petrol is it right that in order to access these services car use in rural communities will have to increase, at cost to those who tend to earn lower incomes? This is a clear example of the lack of joined up thinking across Government Departments and shows that delivery of local services and joined up thinking on the environment are not priorities for this Government.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Free Parking?

The decision to scrap hospital parking charges announced today has exposed a rift between Labour in the Assembly and the Labour Health Minister in London Ben Bradshaw.

Speaking on the BBC radio programme PM he said "We don't think it makes sense to spend money that's currently being spent on patient care, getting people treated faster and better on subsidising car parks - if that's what Scotland and Wales want to do, that's one of the joys of devolution.

"We're spending the money on improving patient care - in Wales, you have to wait much longer for your operation, you have to wait much longer in A+E, you're not going to enjoy the extended GP opening hours that patients in England are soon going to be enjoying. Those are the priorities that we think the English patients are more interested in, rather than subsidising anyone who wants to park in a hospital car park for free."

At Welsh Questions in Parliament this week - we were given the figures namely that 82 patients in England are waiting longer than 13 weeks for their first outpatient appointment. In Wales the figure is 47, 698. The adage there is no such thing as a free lunch comes to mind. What is certain is that the way this has been announced will ensure that hospital trusts face an increase in their deficits and where will this funding shortfall be felt.....I suspect in frontline services.