I am congratulating the Scottish Lib Dems for their successful inclusion of the Post Office Diversification Fund in the Scottish budget. The diversification fund will help secure the future of local post offices by helping them offer a wider range of goods and services to their communities.
The news that a Post Office Diversification Fund has been included in the budget is great news for Angus villages and towns. With state owned banks refusing to lend to sound Scottish businesses at reasonable rates, the fund will assist post office owners to expand and widen their services. By helping the businesses become more profitable, it will hold off the risk of closure.
I learned that the risk of further closures is still serious. Under the last Tory government over 4,000 Post Offices were closed. Under Labour 608 more in Scotland have closed, and yet the boss of Royal Mail is paid a salary of more than £1 million.
Post Offices are essential services in many towns and villages across Angus. I visited Glamis Post Office, which is the last remaining shop in the town. It was saved from closure by a hard fought campaign by the owners, Hugh and Ann Nicoll and local residents. Its success is partly due to expanding the range of goods sold, and it is now the village shop as well as a Post Office. In spring and summer, their cafe provides lovely refreshments for tourists and locals.
Not all villages can count on a strong campaign in defence of their Post Office. The Diversification Fund secured by Scottish Liberal Democrats at Holyrood will ensure a fair chance for all village Post Offices to stay open.