Since being elected in 2005 there have been many issues that have caused my post bag to swell but the response to the post office consultation, which aims to close High Street, Northwood and Ickenham Road, Ruislip branches has been tremendous.

In my opinion our post offices deliver an extremely valuable and personal service, which is hard to find anywhere else. Their closure would undermine the quality of life for many residents in Ruislip and Northwood. I worry that the loss will be particularly acute for elderly residents and those who are less mobile. In the case of Northwood there is a residential care home opposite the targeted branch and its residents rely heavily on the services provided. Accessing the same services in the Green Lane branch, which is situated more than a mile away, would entail either walking up a hill or a costly bus journey which is both physically and financially difficult for many residents.

The closure of these branches would cause great inconvenience to small, local businesses that rely on them for deliveries and despatching goods. Local business owners have raised concerns that alternative branches would not be able to cope with the increased footfall closures would inevitably entail. There is also an issue of parking spaces as branches in Ruislip High Street and Green Lane are already well used by shoppers and commuters.

Moreover, the regeneration of the High Street in Northwood is a critical phase of redevelopment in the area and the loss of the post office, a focal point for any community, would surely impact on the character of the High Street.

I have reservations about the business case for closing these particular branches. Neither is currently running at a loss so the financial savings would be minimal. In the case of Ickenham Road the plan seems to ignore the fact that RAF West Ruislip is being redeveloped with 415 new homes and an 80-bed retirement home being built just yards away from the post office.

Finally, it is my belief that post offices and similar small businesses lie at the very heart of a community and it is fundamentally important that we protect them. I will therefore continue to oppose the closures of these vital branches.