The VOTP wishes to express its reservations about the role of NFSP and its Board




After we asked for an engagement meeting the GE, 4 members of your VotP committee, together with 2 CWU reps (we asked that all groups be invited), met today with Nick Read & 4 senior leaders at Wood Street today.
The NFSP although invited to, were unable to attend due to other commitments.
After introductions, the meeting was opened by Sajaad, leading to questions from Nick Read.
The problems we collectively face as Postmasters and POL were too many and of too great a magnitude to deal with in the time allocated for this meeting but a commitment to further meetings was extracted to ensure that this was more than a listening exercise. First indications from POL were that they had not come to the meeting with any view of there being further meetings after this one but frank exchange of views about their expectation extracted a commitment from them and a promise within the next two weeks to arrange the date for the next meeting to take place. Quarterly meetings being suggested by POL but pushback on that for monthly meetings being the counter view put forward.
The meeting was feisty at times and touching on the issue of the contract changes raised in Nick Reads letter to the select committee and whereas initially this was put in terms by POL that it was a “restatement” of the contract POL accepted that there was a difference between a restatement and an amendment – as for example in the case of MDA 2 when changes to contracts were notified to individual contract holders via special delivery letters. Which had not been done in the case of the “restatement”.
Inevitably the subject of remuneration was brought up and the differences in percentage increases to POL management compared to SPMRs. The problems facing SPMRs and the network due to falling incomes and rising overheads were raised along with the failure to properly recognise the societal value of Post Offices and in recognising it to properly fund it.
The issue of NFSP representation was raised and why POL will only negotiate with them – with no satisfactory explanation of that given, initially pointing to the GFA and then contracts but when challenged to point to which part in either document confirmed this that wasn’t possible to do.
Government funding and the availability of it to fund the preservation of the network was raised as an issue which had been responded to in a question in the House from a Labour MP – that the money spent on compensation could have been used to preserve the network – the minister confirming that this could also be possible. Some collaborative approach with POL was suggested to bring that issue forward in recognising the societal value and funding of it.
There was no indication from POL about what they expected the next extra funding from government to be in June 24.
Whilst mutualisation was touched on, it was recognised that this was some way down the line and that between now and then if it were to be a solution there had to be more done to preserve what remains of the network. It was see as a preferred future option.
It was accepted that a different remuneration model had to be found.
The problems with Royal Mail and the mails competition with them arising from multiple carrier agreements POL looks to secure were also raised. 40% of current POL income deriving from Royal Mail.
Issues of wellbeing for SPMRs were raised and a mechanism being put in place to look after that in the same way that it is available for employed grades.
There was an overall healthy exchange of views although no solutions (as you’d expect) at this stage.

Today (7 February) representatives of postmasters (Voice of Postmaster and Communication Workers Union), accompanied by mutual sector body Co-operatives UK, held a successful meeting with Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP, to discuss the future of the Post Office.

During the meeting Minister Hollinrake confirmed government’s interest in hearing all options and solutions, including the possibility of turning the Post Office into a mutual that would be owned and controlled by postmasters and the communities they serve.

Minister Hollinrake made the following commitments that were very well received by the representatives of the postmasters:

1. Going forward the Minister said he’ll ask the Post Office to engage fully with all bodies representing postmasters

2. In decisions about the future of the Post Office network, government will prioritize remuneration of postmasters and the profitability of local outlets, which it is acknowledged are vital to the long-term health and sustainability of this vital institution.

The Minister has requested a detailed proposal from Co-operatives UK on its suggestion of an independent review into the practicalities of mutualization of the Post Office. The sector body believes such a review should be commissioned by Department of Business and Trade, headed by an impartial public figure, with a panel comprising postmasters, customers, leaders in large mutuals, industry experts and others with expertise in local and rural economies and high streets. Their view was that among other matters, the review would need to consider how a mutual model would empower postmasters, respond to changing customer behavior, and protect and enhance the already significant social impact of the Post Office network.

The minister has agreed to a further meeting.


Richard Trinder, Chair, Voice of the Postmaster, said: “We need significant change. Ministers have looked at mutualising the Post Office in the past and it's time we revisited these options. We're looking forward to meeting with Kevin Hollinrake MP to discuss how the Post Office can best serve the needs of all stakeholders - including sub-postmasters, our communities and government.”

“The voce of the Postmaster is indebted to Minister Hollinrake for his valuable time and thanks him for further engagement in solving the current day issues of Postmaster. Whilst never forgetting the suffering of our fellow Postmaster over the last 20 years. It must never be allowed to happen again. All Postmaster representative bodies must work together to find the solution for the future.

Sean Hudson, Branch Secretary of CWU,said: "The current model is broken - there is no doubt about that. The problems of the past are clear, but the future is as important as the past to our members. No sticking plaster remedy is appropriate or suitable. Mutualisation is a very attractive alternative to the current failed model it would replace and represents one of, if not the best way of, ensuring a future for Sub Postmasters in which they can continue to serve their communities on an economically viable footing – which has been missing to date. "

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “We believe a taskforce of new and progressive thinkers - with postmasters, customers and leading mutual figures front and centre - could produce solutions for government to consider. We welcome the Minister's open-mindedness and are delighted to put a detailed proposal together. Any move towards mutualization marks a profound shift towards empowerment, transparent governance and shared prosperity for postmasters and communities the Post Office serves.

"Postmasters, as co-owners, wouldn't simply be overseeing operations; they'd be guardians of a shared vision, fostering a deeper sense of commitment and responsibility. Communities also want to support their Post Office. It could become a vibrant hub of collective success. This is a practical way, through turning the Post Office into a co-operative, to put control and ownership of this national institution in the hands of postmasters and communities."





Counterfeit Banknotes in Circulation: How to Identify Them and What to Do

The latest forged Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) £20 notes are now so convincing that note counters have difficulty detecting them. 

Moreover, forged Bank of England notes are circulating and not being detected by some PO-supplied Cennox machines. The issue has been reported to Post Office Ltd and affected Postmasters should look for them to write off any discrepancies.  

To help individuals identify counterfeit RBS notes, there are specific features to look for in a forged £20 note: 

  • The RBS logo is not reflective. 
  • The white border at the top and bottom differs in thickness. 
  • When the note is tilted, there is a box around the serial number. 
  • When rubbed, the top squirrel feels rough. 
  • The red building on the front is darker. 
  • Kate Cranston's hair is slightly darker. 
  • Kate Cranston's right eye is lighter in colour. 
  • On the genuine £20 note, the Kate Cranston side feels textured, while on the counterfeit, it feels smooth.

Please be vigilant when any customer not known to the branch deposits RBS neat, clean new £20 notes.  

It is also important to update and clean note counters regularly to prevent falling victim to these fraudulent notes. Unfortunately, three colleagues in the Glasgow area were victims of around £3000 worth of fraudulent notes. 

Visit the Know Your Scottish Banknotes website for valuable information and resources to help recognize counterfeit notes and take appropriate action. The Bank of England website also has guidance on how to check for counterfeit banknotes and a list of serial numbers of forged notes. Please note that the list is not definitive, and other serial numbers are possible. Post Office Ltd Security have also provided a poster to help identify forged RBS notes. 

If you receive any counterfeit notes, report them immediately to the authorities to protect yourself and others from financial fraud. 



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