Doomed post offices named

RESIDENTS living in some of west Suffolk's bigger villages are today taking in the news that they are set to lose their vital post offices.A massive 69 branches across West Suffolk and Norfolk have been earmarked for closure today under a brutal cost-cutting Government closure programme.

Dave Gooderham

RESIDENTS living in some of west Suffolk's bigger villages are today taking in the news that they are set to lose their vital post offices.

A massive 69 branches across West Suffolk and Norfolk have been earmarked for closure today under a brutal cost-cutting Government closure programme.

Post offices in Barton Mills, Honington, Risby, Fornham All Saints, Horringer, Whepstead, Cowlinge, Wattisfield, Great Ashfield, Old Newton and Combs Ford will all be shut under the controversial plans.

The towns of Newmarket, Haverhill, Stowmarket and Thetford will lose one of their branches - in Exning Road, Chalkstone, Crown Street and Nun's Bridge respectively.

While full post offices in Gislingham and Wattisham Airfield will be scaled down providing limited outreach services.

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Thousands of vulnerable people could now be forced to travel miles for vital services while many have already voiced fears about the future of rural shops which desperately need adjoining post office business to survive.

The west Suffolk and Norfolk plans are part of the Post Office's bid to save money by closing 2,500 branches across England and Wales.

Each branch is due to close subject to a six-week consultation exercise branded a “sham” by angry Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

The list includes 47 outright closures in Norfolk and 14 in West Suffolk. 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.

Despite much local opposition, the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters is not against the closure programme.

Sally Reeves, chairman of the organisation's negotiating committee, said: “If I was to say we don't want any closures that would be the heart talking. There's not enough business to keep all those sub-post offices open.

“It's heartbreaking that some have to close to maintain the network. We are keen that the closures are managed, not random. Hopefully, Post Office Ltd is applying sensibly the access criteria.”

The criteria is that 99% of the country's population must be within three miles and 90% within one mile of their nearest post office. In deprived urban areas, 99% must be within one mile, while 95% of people living in any urban areas must also be within one mile of a branch.

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