January 14, 2009 11:59 PM

Newcastle East Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Greg Stone has condemned his Labour opponent Nick Brown's "shameless hypocrisy" after it emerged that the Labour minister had sought to invite himself to the official re-opening of Newton Road post office this Friday.

The branch had been closed for many months after the previous postmaster ceased trading, leaving High Heaton without a post office and raising fears that the Royal Mail would add the branch to its closure programme.

Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman Greg Stone, who is also the ward councillor for the area, led efforts to reopen the branch, and mounted a successful campaign and petition to the Royal Mail urging action.

Now, following council refurbishment of the empty premises, a new postmaster has taken over the business and the office is set to reopen.

However, a row has developed after it emerged that the office of Labour MP Nick Brown has attempted to invite Mr Brown to the launch event to conduct the reopening ceremony, after learning of the news via the Newcastle Lib Dem website.

Greg Stone said: "I don't want politics to get in the way of the very good news that the branch is to reopen, and I don't want in any way to detract from the sterling efforts of the postmaster to set up the new business, but I really am staggered at the shameless hypocrisy of Nick Brown over this matter.

"We have seen neither hide nor hair of Nick Brown in High Heaton for years.

"In that time, he has done nothing at all to assist the campaign to reopen this post office, and indeed he happily voted in Parliament in favour of the post office closure programme.

"As a result, several post offices in his Newcastle East constituency at Clayton Road, Walkerville, St Ann's, and Walker Road are to close.

"Mr Brown was happy to leave it to the Lib Dems to campaign for the reopening of the High Heaton branch, and was only stung into action on the closure of the Walker Road Post Office once the Lib Dems had launched a campaign and circulated leaflets opposing the closure in Walker.

"Unlike Walker Road, the High Heaton Post Office has been saved, but it is no thanks to Nick Brown.

"It really is breathtaking for him to try and wangle an invite to the launch to pretend he has supported the campaign, when his record in Parliament shows he has backed the closure programme throughout and put the interests of the Labour Government ahead of the interests of local people."