Written evidence submitted by Keith Richards (POH0020)

My name is Keith Richards and I have been a member of the National Federation of Subpostmasters since I bought Glynneath Post office in Wales with my wife in 1994. 

My first role was as a Branch Treasurer and I progressed over the years to enjoy every role at Branch, Region and National level up to my leaving the business in 2016, when my office was closed due to Network Transformation.

From the point when I became assistant Branch Secretary in 1997, I have endeavoured to help members who have had difficulty within their office.  This could be either by a non-understanding of how to do a transaction to identifying losses that have occurred within the branch.  This would always be when the member contacted me for help and would usually be by phone first and then a visit to help resolve the issue.

Outside of these issues there were offices that would see themselves have a cautionary suspension placed on them by POL following an audit shortage which could not be explained. Unfortunately, there were a number who, although Federation members, did not want our involvement, either through embarrassment or for other reasons. 

Over the 20 years that I was a Federation official I have helped many members who have asked directly for help on all matters,  I have attended numerous investigation interviews and then followed those up with appeals where necessary.  It is fair to say that I had some success in re-instatements, but also had to accept that given the information that was supplied by POL on certain cases, had no chance of success.  These subpostmasters then had their contract terminated, but were grateful for the support they had received from the Federation and me in particular.  They were glad that they had contacted us for help as they could share their thoughts with someone who understood the business and was willing to help in whatever way they could.

I am now employed full time by the Federation and continue to helpsubpostmasters who have difficulties in whatever shape or form.  It is still a frustration of mine that there are still subpostmasters who are members, but for their own personal reasons, don’t come to us with any problem until it may be too late to resolve. 

May 2020