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Concerns over post office closure threat

PUBLISHED: 05:30 10 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

CONCERNS have been raised over the possible closure of urban post offices in Essex.

Fears have arisen after it was revealed that four post offices in Colchester and another four in Chelmsford are under threat.

CONCERNS have been raised over the possible closure of urban post offices in Essex.

Fears have arisen after it was revealed that four post offices in Colchester and another four in Chelmsford are under threat.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester said he formally objected to threat over four Colchester branches because of the impact it could have on communities in the town.

In a letter to George Hooper, the man heading the consultations for the Post Office in the eastern region, he questioned whether the changes were as a result of the current operators asking to be shut down.

More than £200 million compensation will be shared by postmasters across the country who choose or are forced to close as part of the network development.

Mr Russell said: "In particular I question the loss of the one on Hythe Hill bearing in mind that this is located in an area of major urban regeneration which is currently proceeding with hundreds of new houses. The Post Office is being driven by a national agenda caused by Government policies – to which I am opposed."

Ken Jones a Colchester borough councillor, said: "If these post offices shut down pensioners and other users will face long walks or awkward bus journeys to get to another post office.

A spokesman for the Post Office would not confirm how much money sub postmasters who accepted a compensation package would receive.

He said a computer programme was being used to calculate if urban post offices were still viable and what alternatives were available to customers if a counter was to close.

"Through this programme we will be able to allow sub postmasters who want to leave to do so with dignity.

"Ultimately we know that no one likes to see nearby post offices close, but this is a reality for us because we are losing £3 million pounds per week and no change is not an option," he said.

Hilary Davis, Chairwoman of the Colchester Access Group, added: "I am astounded that we are being given such a short period of time for a response to the proposals. The rationale behind the decision on which post offices are to close, appears to be based on cost effectiveness and making the town ones more profitable.

"Those proposed for closure may seem near to town on paper, but for anyone without transport, including the elderly, young mothers or disabled people like myself, it will necessitate a return journey into town by bus or taxi."

"The Colchester Access Group looks at difficulties with access to public buildings from a physical and sensory point of view, but also takes into account geographical restrictions. In the case of Post Office closures, it is a classic example of reducing access to essential local facilities."

Simon Burns, MP for west Chelmsford, has discussed the issue with Mr Hooper including his fears for people living near the offices in Trent Road, Kings Road, Springfield Road and Queens Road.

He said: "I found the meeting extremely useful because although Mr Hooper was rightly not able to give any commitments as the Post Office are in the midst of a consultation process, he listened with great care to the points I made about the problems that would be caused if these closures go ahead.


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