Bury St Edmunds: Anger over afternoon post office closure

ANGRY customers demanded to be let into a central post office yesterday after it closed its doors during office hours.

The post office in the Buttermarket, Bury St Edmunds, was shut to customers between about 3.15pm and 3.45pm because there were not enough members of staff, customers were told by an employee.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said yesterday’s failure to stay open was regrettable when so many people had to make a special effort to visit the central branch as their rural post office had closed.

Dozens of branches in the county have been axed by the Post Office in recent years.

Mr Ruffley said: “It is completely unacceptable for the main central post office for Bury St Edmunds to be shut in the afternoon. Even if it’s only half an hour.

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“It’s an essential public utility and busy people in a busy town like Bury St Edmunds should not have to put up with that poor service.”

He added: “Today’s failure is even more regrettable when so many villagers now have to make a special effort to get into the central post office in Bury because their local rural sub-post office has been closed.

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“We should never forget that the central post office in Bury St Edmunds is a lifeline and no unforeseen closing of the doors like has happened today is remotely acceptable.”

He said he would be writing to the general manager to establish exactly what had happened.

A crowd gathered outside the post office yesterday, including mothers who needed to withdraw money to feed their children and another who needed to top up her electricity meter.

John Balaam, owner of Balaam’s Music in Risbygate Street, Bury, said it was vital his letter left yesterday.

He described the situation as “absolutely pathetic”.

He said: “This is quite frankly ridiculous. We have got people who need to get their money.”

Mother-of-five Tarryn MacPhee, 31, from Bury, said: “At the end of the day they need to realise people need to eat.”

Customers were not allowed in during that half an hour period, but customers already inside were being served and then let out.

An employee at the door said the branch had had to close due to staffing levels.

When it reopened, branch manager Dave Hewitt said he would have to investigate the exact reasons as to why this had happened, adding how this was the first time the branch had had to shut during working hours in his three years as branch manager.

An official comment on why the closure had arisen was not provided by the Post Office by the time the paper went to press.

The East Anglian Daily Times reported last year how staffing issues at Sudbury post office had led to some irregular opening hours.

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