Post office closures hit list announced

PUBLISHED: 09:28 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 08 July 2010

The closure of almost 50 Norfolk post offices, including several in the Times patch, has been announced today in a move which has been branded “disastrous” for vulnerable people and the rural economy.

The closure of almost 50 Norfolk post offices, including several in the Times patch, has been announced today in a move which has been branded “disastrous” for vulnerable people and the rural economy.

Post offices at Caston; Wretham; Griston; London Street, Swaffham; Norwich Road, Watton (but not the sub post office in High Street); Sporle and the Nuns Bridges Filling Station in Thetford are among 47 in the county earmarked for outright closure.

Another one, at Beachamwell, will be replaced by an “outreach service”.

The hit list includes 14 post offices in West Suffolk including Honington and Barton Mills. It also includes six in Norfolk and two in West Suffolk which are earmarked for replacement with "outreach" services including temporary facilities that serve villages for a few hours each week. It is part of the Post Office's network change programme, which will see the axe fall on 2,500 of the 14,500 post offices in England and Wales.

All of the threatened branches are part of a closure plan for Norfolk which is being put out to public consultation today. North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “I'm appalled at the sheer scale of the closures; the post office is the lifeblood of a lot of small communities and it's a social hub as well. It's a

grim, grim day for the rural economy.”

Peter Medhurst, chairman of Norfolk Rural Community Council, said: “In some areas it will be disastrous. Many people don't have an alternative to their post office.

“People who don't have transport, including the elderly and more vulnerable, are going to be hit the hardest as usual.”

Norfolk County Council said the Post Office had “little regard to the real impact” of the closures, and urged everyone in the county to get involved in the six-week public consultation.

The council will be working with district councils and the rural community council to assess the impact of the proposed closures.

Council leader Daniel Cox said: “Post offices play a vital role in supporting villages and neighbourhoods across the county and these closures strike a disastrous blow at the heart of community life.

“The county council also has serious concerns about how the Post Office is driving forward this process and how it seems to have very little regard to the real impact these closures will have.

“Where a closure falls outside of the criteria, we will put a robust case forward to both the Post Office and Post Watch to safeguard any branches concerned.”

North Norfolk District Council has carried out an audit of every post office in its area so it can fight for any which do not wish to close down. Broadland and South Norfolk councils also oppose the closures.

A Post Office spokesman said: “We need to reduce the number of branches to reduce costs and increase the business to branches that remain open.”

The current network is losing more than £3m a week, as more and more of its products and services, from pensions to TV licences to car tax, become available online.

Each area plan undergoes six weeks of public consultation before a final decision is made. Elsewhere, in areas where plans have been published, a handful of branches have been saved by local protests.

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