In March 2008, Post Office Limited initiated a public consultation on proposals to permanently close five Post Offices in Powys and replace a further 17 with ‘outreach services’.
As part of the council response, Powys County Council’s Research and Information Unit was asked to analyse the impact of these proposals on this part of mid-Wales. Specifically, the council wanted to consider suggestions that the proposals overestimated the populations covered by the revised distribution of Post Offices by measuring the distance to each Post Office without taking account of the physical terrain or the road network.
The unit looked at evidence that had already been requested and listened to what councillors and residents had to say about who could be worst affected by Post Office closures, for example, the elderly, people without cars or without bank accounts, those on low incomes and small businesses. It then considered what local area statistics could be obtained in the time available and drew up a template for a catchment area profile.
This template used OS MasterMap® Integrated Transport Network™ Layer within Routefinder from Higher Mapping Solutions and allowed the council to create revised catchment areas based on the real travel distances to each of the 22 threatened Post Offices. This information was then integrated with ADDRESS-POINT® to enable a disaggregation of the census statistics that community discussion had revealed were most sensitive to the closure regime.
- Mapping enabled the clear visualisation of the proposals.
- The council was able to keep residents informed.
- The regular updating of datasets ensures that, as Accessibility Impact Assessments were updated, the results were comparable.