Churn Valley residents have welcomed a Coalition government pledge that will ensure the future of all post offices in the district until at least the next general election.
At the Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool, Business Secretary Vince Cable promised Government support for the country’s network of post offices, ruling out a repeat of the mass closure of branches that tore the heart out of rural communities under the previous administration.The Business Secretary vowed to retain the Post Office network in its current state as he outlined details of plans to privatise Royal Mail. Mr Cable received warm support at the conference when he insisted that Royal Mail’s Post Office business is “not for sale”. He went on: “There will be no programme of closures as there were under Labour.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson who heard the announcement said: “We fought hard two years ago to keep our post offices open in the Cotswolds and were bitterly disappointed to lose so many. Those losses mustn’t be repeated and so this news is a great relief to our rural communities for whom the post office is a hub and focal point.”
Cllr Hodgkinson was at the forefront of a local battle in 2008 to successfully save two post offices in his ward – at Colesbourne and Rendcomb. He added: “The Churn Valley is very fortunate to have two really good post office stores – in Colesbourne where we also have a garage and in Rendcomb. Both are vitally important for us to keep.”
Residents of Salterley Grange and Ullenwood, together with Coberley Parish Council and Cotswold District Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, have formed an action group to pressurize the Highways Department. They want measures actioned urgently to combat the unacceptable number of road traffic accidents which regularly occur on the sharp bends of the road from the Air Balloon to Leckhampton in the Salterley Grange area.
The action group, to be called the Salterley Action Force to Enhance our Roads (SAFER) will provide a focus and co-ordinated approach to the authorities. Despite having been de-classified, this road is a major thoroughfare for commuter traffic from Swindon, Cirencester and Gloucester directions. Even though sign-posting directs traffic for Cheltenham via the A436 and A435 into Charlton Kings, it is believed that over 20,000 vehicles per week use this small country road as a short-cut.
“There is a history of serious accidents on these bends” said Councillor Hodgkinson, “In the last 12 months alone, residents have counted 10, including one fatality. Most of these are in the autumn and winter months when the road surface is often wet and has the extra hazard of fallen leaves and ice. But we firmly believe that the main cause of accidents is excessive speed.” “Although there is a 40 mph limit in place, it is impossible to negotiate these bends safely at anything over 30 mph.”
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson has recently made a short film in the Churn Valley, courtesy of FurryFeet TV, highlighting the big issues he’s been campaigning on in the ward.