Fears over rural services

VILLAGERS have expressed their concerns after is was revealed another rural service station which has served its community for nearly 40 years is to close.

VILLAGERS have expressed their concerns after is was revealed another rural service station which has served its community for nearly 40 years is to close.

The imminent closure of Total's Southgate Service Station in Long Melford, will leave many motorist having to travel miles to get their fuel.

The garage closes at the end of the month and follows the closures of petrol stations in Alpheton, Monks Eleigh, and Cavendish in recent years.

As a result there is now no filling station on any of the main routes between Sudbury and Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds or towards Hadleigh in the opposite direction.


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The Southgate Service Station has been in the village since 1968. Norman Greensmith took over the lease in 1975 and has run the business ever since.

Today the operation, which is owned by Total, consists of a petrol station, a shop, a services workshop and small second-hand car sales department.

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Mr Greensmith said: "For me it is time to move onto something new, but I am sad Total is going to close the garage down. It is not viable as a petrol station alone, but the package is profitable so it is sad it will be lost.

"It is a blow to me and a blow to the village because another community amenity has been lost. We have built up a good clientele here and they will no have to go elsewhere to get their fuel. There is not a petrol station between here and Sudbury or towards Bury St Edmunds or Haverhill.

"It is another case of big businesses putting profit before people, which I think is very sad."

Melford parish chairman Richard Michette said: "It is very disappointing because this is the last garage in Long Melford and obviously it is another loss to the community, which is a problem.

"It will be sad to lose the petrol station, but also the services side of the business because that is also the only one in the village. The nearest filling station for people in Long Melford will now be in Sudbury."

A Total spokesman said: "To continue trading, the service station would have required major capital investment to its facilities and infrastructure in line with legislative and operational requirements. Due to the current trading environment, the service station was not and would not have made an operational return for Total UK in the longer-term.

"Total appreciates that this will be a difficult loss to the local community, and apologises for the inconvenience that this will cause to its customers."

Once the garage has been decommissioned the site will be marketed for alternative uses.

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