THE battle to save four Hyndburn post offices has turned into a war of words between the borough’s Labour MP and Tory council leader.
Over the past few weeks, the issue has been on everyone’s lips, with offices in Huncoat, Church, Great Harwood and Belthorn all facing the chop.
Last week Greg Pope MP added his voice to the ranks of protesters, saying the post offices are much-needed hubs for their communities and many people, particularly the elderly, rely on them for important services.
But his commitment to the cause has been questioned by council leader Peter Britcliffe, who accused him of jumping on the bandwagon.
In a letter to Mr Pope he said: "I have noticed your letter of support for the council’s fight against post office closures and if this is the case then it is to be welcomed.
"However, on examining your voting record I find you have supported every Government measure which has led to the current rationalisation of post office services.
"I know it won’t be convenient for you to face the facts, but the truth is that since Labour came into power you have presided over something like 10 post office closures a week.
"Frankly, that is an appalling record.
"In this context, it is difficult for me to see what value should be placed on your recent expression of support for the council’s campaign to save the borough’s post offices from the latest round of cuts.
"If you mean you are prepared to stand up in Westminster and argue against these closures, then I am sure your support would be welcome.
"If however, your support is just a way of jumping on the bandwagon now that you can see how angry local people are about this issue, then please don’t waste your breath.
"This whole issue is about what you do, not about what you say. I am sorry if you find this blunt, but I am sure people will judge you on your record and as things stand you have a lot of ground to make up."
Mr Pope replied: "This is very disappointing. I wrote to every councillor, including Conservative, Labour and Independents, a few weeks ago suggesting that we all work together, as this is not a political issue.
"This is the response I get back from the leader of the council. It shows he is more interested in scoring cheap political points than in doing something positive.
"I will be working very closely with councillors on this issue but if he wants to take his bat home then that’s fine – I will work with the grown-ups on the council."
l Councillors this week launched a Post Office Partnership Campaign which will be encouraging local businesses to work with Post Office Ltd to deliver some of its vital services, including free access to pensions.
Councillor Britcliffe said: "The Government continues to reduce grants to post offices and unless this changes these won’t be the last closures proposed.
"We will soon be campaigning against the closure of the last post office in the country."