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  MP backs campaign to support local post offices facing axe  


Mr Bacon officially launched South
Norfolk Council’s ‘Support Your Local Post Office’ campaign when he attended a special meeting of sub postmasters and sub postmistresses last month. Photo: Andy Plane

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon is backing a council campaign to support local post offices facing the axe this summer.

Mr Bacon officially launched South Norfolk Council’s ‘Support Your Local Post Office’ campaign when he attended a special meeting of sub postmasters and sub postmistresses last month.
 

 

Mr Bacon officially launched South
Norfolk Council’s ‘Support Your Local
 Post Office’ campaign when he
 attended a special meeting of sub
 postmasters and sub postmistresses
 last month. 
Photo: Andy Plane

 
The meeting at the council headquarters, Swan Lane, Long Stratton follows months of campaign planning and meetings which has brought together local post office staff for the first time.

Mr Bacon said: “Many people rely on the local village post office, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable and those who have difficulty in travelling any great distance. I congratulate South Norfolk Council on its campaign, which deserves our full support”.

Councillor Michael Windridge, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Heritage, Enterprise and Culture welcomed the MPs backing, and was scathing in his criticism of the threatened cuts.

He said: “Our rural post offices are living under the darkest clouds of uncertainty, and in a matter of weeks Post Office Ltd will publish a list of those it wants to shut down. That list is expected on 26 March, and could include several in South Norfolk”. 

“We are very grateful to our MP for backing us. This cost cutting measure will rip the heart out of many village communities. There will be a huge public outcry when it happens, and we will be crying out the loudest against it”. 

He added: “It is a damning indictment that 5,000 post offices have closed and a further 2,500 are due to close by 2009. It means over a third of the nation's entire post office network will be lost for ever. This puts even Dr Beeching to shame”.

Post Office Ltd has confirmed the timetable for their network change programme in Norfolk. There will be a six week public consultation. So far, the council has held two preliminary meetings with sub postmasters and mistresses to gather information on their businesses and help them understand the picture across the area.

The council is collecting and analysing data on access, population, customer base, turnover and so on for each post office, so it can assess the impact any closure may have on the local community.

There is growing concern that village shops will become less viable if the post office trade ceases. The council is also working with others across Norfolk to develop a county-wide response to the programme, as well as gather a greater mass of evidence and support to try and influence Post Office Ltd decision-making.

The criteria set by the Government is that people should have access to a post office within 3 miles in rural areas. But that takes no account of the lack of public transport in districts like South Norfolk, nor of the problems older and infirm people have simply travelling short distances. Some post offices in the district even take orders to people in their homes, where they have mobility problems.

South Norfolk Council is also arranging a meeting with Post Office Ltd’s Network Change Team to discuss their closure programme.

11 March 2008