Sub-postmasters have raised concerns over the future independence of the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) as it enters into a 15-year agreement with the Post Office.

Delegates at a special conference of the NFSP in Birmingham voted today in favour of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the company.

Under the agreement, the Post Office will provide the NFSP with core funding of up to £1.5m a year, together with a budget of more than £1m a year in grant funding for specific projects.

David Woodrow, of Woodrows Newsagents in Renfrewshire, said: “I cannot understand how the NFSP can truly represent subpostmasters when the pay master for the organisation is the Post Office.

“It is totally an executive decision. Executives came up with the idea of the MoU and they did not allow proper presentation from members on the proposal.

“There’s a lot of weak links at the NFSP, it looks after the executives and the members don’t get a look in.”

Les Gilbert, of Lyme Regis Post Office added: “I’m a bit lost for words actually.

“It’s lost its independence, it’s lost its credibility and it’s lost its ability to properly represent subpostmasters.

“My own feeling is the NFSP has become far too close to the Post Office.”

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter told RN: “We are not surprised. We have always known the executive committee favoured the Post Office offer.

“I, like others, am concerned about the independence of the NFSP now that they have taken the golden shilling.”

Over the coming weeks the NFSP will progress towards becoming a company limited by guarantee, followed by completion of the MoU with the Post Office by the new company.

A full copy of the MoU can be found here.

George Thomson, NFSP general secretary, said the new agreement was “a major step forward for the relationship between subpostmasters and Post Office”.

“This decision by members will ensure that subpostmasters across the UK continue to have strong representation and receive the support they need,” he said.

“Subpostmasters are facing increasing competitive pressures and challenges. It’s vital they have access to the best possible support to build successful and sustainable branches.”