SDLP Infrastructure Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has backed calls for the British Government to reverse its decision to remove DVLA services from the Post Office as of March 31, 2024.
A petition by The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) and Retail NI to retain these services has reached 7,000 signatures.
Mr Durkan said the removal of vital face-to-face services will have a detrimental impact not just on customers, particularly those who are vulnerable or elderly, but on the future of hundreds of local Post Office branches.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The Post Office is a simple and trusted method used by so many DVLA customers on a daily basis.
“The method has proved very effective to date – the phrase ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind.
“I’m concerned that the drive to digitise infrastructure will negatively impact thousands of vulnerable customers including those unfamiliar with online services.
“The withdrawal of community services like these will serve to further the digital divide and will present additional barriers to vulnerable individuals.
“Considering there are on average 40,000 DVLA transactions at post office counters every month, this move will be a devastating blow to Post Office staff, threatening the livelihood of thousands.
“The removal of these services will spell disaster for the future of our high streets who have already borne the brunt of the great consumer shift to online shopping.
“Post Office branches serve as a crucial driver of footfall to local highstreets, the incremental decimation of these services will have a detrimental and irreversible impact.
“This is a short-sighted decision and should it proceed, it will prove devastating for communities right across the North and Britain.
“The British Government need to urgently rethink this ill-considered move.”