Concern mounts at post offices axe
AN OUTGOING postmaster whose branch is to shut has expressed concern for his elderly customers who rely on the social aspect of visiting the outlet.Doug Darling, who has run the Horringer Road Post Office in Bury St Edmunds for the past 17 years, said those living alone would miss the conversation and company offered by the store when it closes its doors next month.
AN OUTGOING postmaster whose branch is to shut has expressed concern for his elderly customers who rely on the social aspect of visiting the outlet.
Doug Darling, who has run the Horringer Road Post Office in Bury St Edmunds for the past 17 years, said those living alone would miss the conversation and company offered by the store when it closes its doors next month.
The branch is one of two in the town to fall under the axe as part of a nationwide plan to reduce the number of urban post offices. Bosses announced on Friday that both the Horringer Road outlet and a second in Southgate Street will shut their doors permanently on June 23.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Darling said although the majority of his customers had come to terms with the news, several were still "not very happy" at losing their closest post office.
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But he added the latest round of closures were, as far as he believed, likely to be the last.
"Some urban branches have had to close, but I believe these are the last and no more will be touched," said Mr Darling.
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"Most of our customers have come to terms with it, but one or two are not very happy, and I myself have mixed feelings.
"We do a lot of banking here, but the corner shop nearby offers cash back, bill payments and electricity tokens. Pensions are also now paid straight into people's accounts, all of which means the post office has been undermined.
"I have been here for 17 years, and have seen a lot of changes. Some are starting to bite, and will make quite a big difference over the next two years. You can call it progress, but some people would not agree.
"Post offices are a social place for some of the elderly people who live alone, and unfortunately I think they are going to miss us."
The news of the closures was greeted with dismay by Bury MP David Ruffley.
He said: "I am bitterly disappointed at two more closures in the town. I would urge people whose branches are not yet under threat to make their concerns known in advance if they want to keep the axe man away."
Customers of the two branches in Horringer Road and Southgate Street have been advised by Post Office bosses to use outlets in the town centre or the Hardwick Shopping Centre instead.
Paul Simmonds, area head, said: "Of course, no one likes to see the branch nearest to them shut, but even with these closures, customers will still have reasonable access to alternative services.
"We are satisfied the remaining post office branches in the area are suitable located and offer the right services to meet the communities needs."
Staff at the Southgate Street branch declined to comment on the closure.