Opposition grows to PO closure
By Richard SmithOPPOSITION is mounting against the proposed closure of a post office in a seaside town.Residents and town councillors warned elderly people in particular would suffer if the Post Office rubber stamps the planned closure of the branch in Beach Station Road, Felixstowe.
By Richard Smith
OPPOSITION is mounting against the proposed closure of a post office in a seaside town.
Residents and town councillors warned elderly people in particular would suffer if the Post Office rubber stamps the planned closure of the branch in Beach Station Road, Felixstowe.
Customers are being advised they should use alternative branches in Bent Hill, Hamilton Road and Grange Farm Avenue, Cavendish Park.
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But town councillors warned they did not think the closure made sense because it left many residents without a post office nearby while retaining two - Bent Hill and Hamilton Road - which are close to each other.
Town councillor, Andy Smith, told the council's finance and general purposes committee: “It does seem perverse. Bent Hill is extremely close to the other one and that seems to be an anachronism. If a choice has to be made, why close Beach Station Road rather than Bent Hill?”
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Felixstowe mayor, Doreen Savage, added: “They are quite a long, long way from another post office and a lot of people are elderly in that area. Going up to Bent Hill or the Cavendish Park branch is a long way.”
Post office customers said the Beach Station Road branch was an “efficient, helpful community unit” and to close the branch would be a social injustice affecting the livelihood of the postmistress and staff.
They warned people who could not drive would suffer and they would have the added expense of catching a bus to another branch.
But George Hooper, the Post Office's head of area, said: “Due to falling customer numbers, increasing running costs and increased customer choice about how their benefits are paid with the introduction of direct payment into accounts, the sub-postmaster, with our agreement, is seeking to pursue different interests.
“In response, as part of our programme to restructure and modernise our network, we have undertaken a complete review of this and other branches in the area. We have concluded that there are several branches in the area each competing to serve fewer and fewer customers.
“If we, and those sub-postmasters who want to continue, are to survive as a business, whilst at the same time maintain a viable network of local branches, then we must change the way we provide Post Office services in the area.”
When plans to scrap benefit and pensions books were first announced, The East Anglian
Daily Times launched a Save Our Post Offices campaign, fearing the region's rural network could be decimated by losing vital trade.
The EADT collected a 102,000-signature petition, calling on the Government to safeguard the future of post offices, which was presented to the Trade and Industry Secretary.
There are six weeks of consultation and then the Beach Station Road post office will close in December unless the decision is overturned.