Fury as Suffolk post offices are axed

POST Office bosses will sound the death knell for 16 more branches in Suffolk today after deciding to ignore campaigners' arguments.

Laurence Cawley

POST Office bosses will sound the death knell for 16 more branches in Suffolk today after deciding to ignore campaigners' arguments.

Furious MPs said the decision to axe the post offices - bringing the total loss to the county to 49 - was “devastating” for rural Suffolk and branded the consultation process “a disgrace”.

The Post Office Ltd is due to officially announce the closures in its west Suffolk network this morning.

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But the EADT understands that none of the branches that were threatened with closure will be saved - despite fierce campaigns from local people.

It means that post offices at Barton Mills, Chalkstone, Combs Ford and Crown Street in Stowmarket, Cowlinge, Exning Road in Newmarket, Fornham All Saints, Great Ashfield, Honington, Horringer, Old Newton, Risby, Wattisfield, and Whepstead will all be shut.

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The branches at Wattisham Airfield and Gislingham, near Eye, will be replaced by outreach services.

The closures come after 33 branches in east Suffolk were closed last year, with a further 16 replaced by outreach services.

In Norfolk, just three of the 53 closure-threatened branches have been reprieved, ending hope of saving post offices at Bressingham, Scole and Nuns Bridges in Thetford.

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, described the Post Office's decision - part of national plans to axe 2,500 post offices - as “absolutely appalling”.

He said: “The fact is that there's no logic in this at all - no matter how well used, how profitable they are or how keen the sub-postmasters are to maintain their business, they are being closed down.

“The consultation has been an utter farce and it is perfectly plain they were not interested in listening at all. It is an absolute disgrace and I am absolutely horrified.”

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “This is a devastating decision for rural Suffolk. “Campaigners have worked really hard to challenge Post Office Ltd on their closure proposals and have put together excellent cases against these closures.

“I share my constituents' shock and anger that the arguments they put forward appear to have been ignored.

“It will be a particularly devastating blow for elderly and disabled people and those without transport who rely on their local post office.

“These post office closures will rip the heart out of local communities which need more local services, not fewer.

“I will be studying the decision document very closely to see if any of these decisions can be challenged.”

The villages surrounding Fornham All Saints Post Office had a staunch campaign to save their branch - but to no avail.

Trevor Whitehouse, sub-postmaster at the branch, was last night unavailable for comment. But prior to today's announcement, Michael Collier, Fornham Parish Council chairman, had told how the entire community had mobilised in support of their branch.

There has also been public meetings, demonstrations and petitions to save the affected branches in Stowmarket.

A spokeswoman for Post Office Ltd said: “I cannot confirm anything prior to the announcement. This is a national programme and we are required to close 2,500 branches simply because of the reduction in customers and to ensure the viability of the branches that remain.”

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