It is a legal requirement for Post Office Ltd to provide to parliament a Network report detailing the number of branches and how they meet the universal service obligation.
In the past this has been published in July – 4 months after their year end. It is now the end of August and the report has still not been delivered.
One can only wonder why the delay in publication but this extract from a Parliamentary briefing paper may give some ideas about just how difficult the task of knowing where all your branches are:
From June 2005 a new system of recording the number of Post Offices was introduced. This has caused a discontinuity in the overall total, regional figures and the urban/rural breakdown. Overall, the number of post offices recorded at the end of June 2005 was only two below the total at the end of March 2005. However, 31 net rural reductions and 33 net urban reductions were counted. In this note, the totals given for June 2005 are used but the change figures are adjusted to take account of the discontinuity. There is also a break in the series at the end of 2006 and again at the end of 2006/07 after Royal Mail undertook work regarding the identification of branches and services. In rural areas in particular, they have, over the past few years, introduced a number of ‘innovative solutions’ – for example, where Sub-postmasters provide a service in a nearby village from the village hall. They may do this for one or more villages and the previous technical set up mean’s that all accounting was completed at the host or hub site. Technical updates now mean that all individual serving points are identified. Also, in many remote areas communication with branches was through satellite links and the Post Office is now able to communicate with them through broadband. These and other activities have changed the way that some branches are identified, although there has in effect been no actual physical change in services to the public at these branches. Between December 2006, March 2007 and June 2007, the Post Office increased the accuracy of the data in terms of the methodology and data sets used. Previous analysis to identify branch locations was based on postcode information where postcode centroids were used to plot locations which are accurate to 100m. The new approach is to use address pointed coordinates, these are accurate to the actual building, rather than the 100m for the postcode centroids. As an example of these changes, there was a fall in the physical network at June 2007 of 44 branches on March 2007, the impact of the technical changes (-28 branches) means that the statistics showed a fall in the post office network of 72 branches.
Perhaps they think no one reads these reports?