Conservative and Labour rebels protested at trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling's plans for around 2,500 post offices to be axed over the next 18 months, confirmed yesterday. Daily Telegraph

Consultation on the plans to reduce the network from 14,300 to about 11,800 will begin consultations this summer – each lasting six weeks – and decide which branches will go. The cutbacks will be spread evenly across urban and rural parts.

More than 4,600 post offices have closed since Labour came into power in 1997.