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Issue:- 19 May 2011

Report on Post Office mutualisation

A Government commissioned report has been published on how best to transfer Post Office Ltd from Government ownership into a mutual run for the public benefit.

The proposals in the report by Co-operatives UK, the trade association for co-operative enterprises, would give the local owners of Post Office branches - the subpostmasters - together with employees, charities, customers and local communities, a much greater say in how the network is run.

In recent months Co-operatives UK have been seeking views from the National Federation of SubPostmasters, retailers, business organisations and a range of experts. They examined employee owned mutuals like John Lewis and customer owned mutuals like the Co-operative Group, and concluded that a hybrid of these two structures would work best for Post Office Ltd.

Co-operatives UKís Secretary General, Ed Mayo said:- "We want to see a first class not a second class Post Office. A mutual, rather than a state-owned, Post Office is one way to achieve that, because over time it can let the people who have the greatest interest in the network share in its success. We welcome the imagination that the Government has shown, but also the understanding of Ministers that this needs careful design and open consultation to succeed. Co-operative businesses, for example, are thriving at present, but in itself being a mutual is not enough. You need to find ways to use the model, with its dispersed ownership, ethical values and opportunities for commitment and loyalty, to create commercial and social advantage. With input from all the key interested parties, we have therefore identified a model for how Post Office Ltd, now owned by the state, can become the Post Office Mutual, operating in the public interest."

Minister for Postal Affairs Edward Davey said:- "I welcome this comprehensive report - it paints an exciting picture of what a mutualised Post Office Ltd could look like. A radical shakeup to combine elements of John Lewis and Co-operative Groupís ownership arrangements would give those who know the Post Office best - subpostmasters, franchise partners, staff and the communities they serve - a real say in how the Post Office is run. Mutualisation will only work if the key parties involved want to make it happen and believe it to be the best way forward - it is not something which can be imposed from above by the Government. So we will carefully consider this report before launching a public consultation later this year so that everyone can have their say."

Ministers are concerned that the Post Office is being held back by the current structure of Post Office Ltd, the Government owned company that develops and provides products and services which are delivered through the UKís 11,500 Post Office branches.

There is often tension between the interests of the Post Office Ltd and privately owned local branches which make up 97% of the network. For example, subpostmasters are pitted against Post Office Ltd when they negotiate annual pay rates. And they fear Post Office Ltd expanding online because they worry it will drive customers away from their stores and that they wonít share in the profits.

Ministers believe that transferring ownership of Post Office Ltd - not the privately owned individual branches - to a mutual could better align these interests and help secure a positive future for the network. Last year the Government asked Co-operatives UK to explore the proposal in detail.

Co-operatives UKís key recommendations are:-

► The Post Office would be owned, ultimately, by its members

► Those delivering the service, such as employees and subpostmasters, and representatives of those receiving the service - such as consumer, charitable and community groups - should all have the chance to become members of the Post Office mutual

► The option of every Post Office customer being allowed to become a member of the network should stay open, but may not be cost-effective, in terms of governance arrangements, for the first phase of operation

► The Post Office should still be run on a day to day basis by a Board of Directors and Non-Executive Directors. But this Board will be answerable to and appointed by a forum that is representative of the members

► Government has a key role to play, not least in supporting the delivery of public services through the network, but it should not be a member or owner. Its relationship should be a contractual and/or regulatory one

► The core purpose of the Post Office is to operate for the public benefit and this should be entrenched, with legal safeguards, for perpetuity.

► The Government is clear that before any changes can be made, the network will need to be put on a more secure financial footing, so that a mutual could build from solid foundations. It believes it is realistic for the Post Office to be in mutual ownership by the end of this Parliament and will conduct a full public consultation later this year. There are protections in place in the Postal Services Bill to ensure that a mutual Post Office will always be run for the public benefit. 

► Last year (2010) the Government announced £1.34 billion of funding for the Post Office, to maintain and modernise the network. Mutualisation would not prevent the Government from providing further funding in the future.  

The Co-operatives UKís report is available here:- www.uk.coop/postoffice, email us your views on this topic to our newsroom email.

Help your local street in its battle to be crowned Britainís Best Street!

LIVERPOOL is glowing with pride after the city was selected to host the Olympic Flame as part of the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

The iconic symbol is set to arrive in the city on Friday, 1 June 2012, and plans are underway for a special evening celebration event to take place at the Pier Head to mark the unique occasion.  Liverpool is one of 66 locations across the UK confirmed today by the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and
Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

The evening events will offer thousands of people the opportunity to come together and get involved in celebrations and share in the Olympic spirit. As part of the events LOCOG and the Presenting Partners, Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, will stage exciting entertainment shows where a cauldron will be lit from the Olympic Flame, marking the end of the dayís proceedings.

Leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Joe Anderson, said:- "Liverpool is a city world-renowned for its sporting prowess and itís fitting we have been selected to take part in this prestigious event. The city is no stranger to hosting high profile sporting events in many fields including tennis, badminton, netball, golf and sailing, and weíre proud that the city is part of the warm-up to the worldís greatest sporting competition! Weíre already looking at ways to celebrate the arrival of the torch in the city, but what we can say at this stage is that it will be a memorable evening during which our communities can become part of the buzz around the Olympic Games."

The Olympic Flame will arrive in the UK from Greece on Friday, 18 May 2012, and the 70 day Torch Relay will start at Landís End, Cornwall on the morning of the 19 May 2012. On leaving Landís End, it is expected to travel an estimated 8,000 miles across the UK, giving thousands of communities and individuals their moment to shine as the Olympic Flame comes to their doorstep. It will arrive at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said:- "We are thrilled that Liverpool has agreed to host the Olympic Flame on its journey right across the UK. The Olympic Flame will shine a light right across Liverpool celebrating the culture and heritage of the area and showcasing the very best of the city. We have no doubt that the welcome we receive will demonstrate how the spirit of the Olympic Games is reaching out across the UK and excitement builds as the start of the 2012 Games draws closer."

The Olympic Flame will be carried across the UK by 8,000 inspirational Torchbearers and once the detailed daily route is confirmed later this year, it is the aim that 95% of the population will be within a one hour journey time, of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

LOCOG is seeking 8,000 of the most inspirational people to have their moment to shine next summer by carrying the Olympic Flame.

The LOCOG Torchbearer programme is on the hunt for 2,012 inspirational people who have gone beyond their personal best! Residents are asked to nominate someone by visiting:- london2012.com/olympictorchrelay and writing 150 words on why their nominee should carry the iconic symbol. It is hoped more than half the torchbearers will be young people, between 12 and 24 - plus the other half will be those who inspire young people.

The deadline for nominations is 11.59pm on Wednesday, 29 June 2011. Judging panels will be set up in each region of the UK
to select the Torchbearers for their area.

90% of the 8,000 Torchbearer places will be made available to the public through a number of channels including the four public nomination campaigns to be run by LOCOG, Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Each of the 8,000 Torchbearers will have a story of achievement and/or contribution to their local community.

FUNDRAISER CALLS ĎACTION!í FOR SOUTHPORT CHARITY CAMPAIGN

A local fundraiser is putting people in Southport under the spotlight and asking them to reveal their inner movie star for movie-based fundraising campaign, ĎAt the Moviesí.

Charles Horton, Volunteer Fundraising Manager for the muscle-wasting disease charity the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, is encouraging the people of Southport to get glamorous and hold their own movie-related fundraiser in aid of the charity.

Speaking about the brand new initiative, Charles said:- "We are excited to launch ĎAt the Moviesí and hope that local people will get involved in some film themed fundraising. This could be anything from a film quiz to a dress like a star day at work or even a special film screening. I hope that lots of people will sign up to organise their own glamorous ĎAt the Moviesí event and Iím here to support you every step of the way."

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign helps people all over the UK who are affected by muscle disease.

Money raised through At the Movies will go towards helping the 70,000 babies, children and adults with muscle wasting conditions in the UK.   ĎAt The Moviesí is a fundraiser that everyone can take part in, and participants will be sent a pack with everything they need to get started.

For more information visit:- muscular-dystrophy.org/movies or call our fundraising hotline on:- 0845 872 9058.

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