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Post offices to close despite pleas

PUBLISHED: 05:27 21 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

A BID to save three of the region's post offices has failed despite last ditch pleas by residents and an MP.

Sudbury town council and local residents pleaded with Post Office Ltd to save the branch that has served the town's Melford Road for decades, but the company has now announced closure.

A BID to save three of the region's post offices has failed despite last ditch pleas by residents and an MP.

Sudbury town council and local residents pleaded with Post Office Ltd to save the branch that has served the town's Melford Road for decades, but the company has now announced closure.

The company is reassessing the viability of its 9,000 outlets in the light of imminent technological changes in relation to direct payment of benefits, and a claim that many small, urban branches will become unviable.

Marilyn West said she will miss her customers, and has been doing her best to reassure them they will receive the same caring attention when they switch their business to a large, town centre main office.

In a letter to the town council, area head George Hooper says a consultation period has resulted in numerous formal comments. But the company has concluded the presence of a main office in East Street meets its new national criteria of ensuring 95% of customers live within a mile of their nearest branch, with the majority residing within half a mile.

He continues: "We have carefully considered our original proposals, and taking into account overall branches resources in the area, we have decided that permanent closure of the branch is the correct action to take.

"We have taken into consideration the local terrain and the facilities available in the area, particularly in relation to parking and public transport. A member of our network team has personally walked the ground, with a view to ensuring that all aspects of customer accessibility have, as far as possible, been taken into account."

Mrs West, who has run the post office and stores for six years, agreed her business had not really "been viable," and could certainly not survive without the post office.

She added: "It's the customers that have been become important to me, and some of the older ones are worried whether they will cope. We have run things like a photo copying service, which helped bring people in, although it didn't make money. People will miss that kind of service.

"My husband, Paul, who goes out to work, and I will look into having the shop incorporated within our house. The premises is unlikely to continue for retailing."

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that despite vehement objections, that sub post offices in Kings Road and Trent Road in Chelmsford are to close permanently.

Simon Burns MP for West Chelmsford, said: "I am disgusted and bitterly disappointed that despite the strong sense of feeling by local residents that they are pressing ahead with closing the Kings Road and Trent Road sub-post offices.

"This will cause undue hardship particularly to pensioners and those without their own form of transport."

Post Office Ltd stated: "The decision follows a month-long period of consultation during which the views of local people, groups and elected representatives, including the MP, were sought by Post Office Ltd in line with a Code of Practice agreed nationally with the consumer council for postal services, Postwatch."

Mr Hooper, said: "We fully appreciate the concerns expressed by those who let us have their views and have taken account of them in making this final decision.

"However, the issue is not about the future of an individual branch but the overall viability of our urban network overall.

"Each of the remaining Post Office branches in this area is conveniently accessible to customers and is within a mile of Kings Road and Trent Road Post Offices."

Trent Road is due to close on April 29 with Kings Road to close the following day


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