Postmasters gagged over closures

POSTMASTERS have been sworn to secrecy after learning whether their branches face the axe under a major cull by the Post Office.They claim they have been sent emails by Post Office Ltd telling them whether they have been earmarked for closure or to remain open.

Laurence Cawley

POSTMASTERS have been sworn to secrecy after learning whether their branches face the axe under a major cull by the Post Office.

They claim they have been sent emails by Post Office Ltd telling them whether they have been earmarked for closure or to remain open.

But they have also been ordered not to divulge the information to their customers and to refer all queries about the proposed culls to the Post Offices' publicity department.

Next Wednesday the company will reveal the full list of proposed branch cuts in west Suffolk, which have been made in an effort to save money.

If follows a similar announcement earlier this year when postal chiefs revealed they would close 47 services across east Suffolk and north Essex.

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Marion Halsey, sub postmistress at Bardwell Post Office, said she had been told Bardwell, near Bury St Edmunds, would not be closed.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” she said. “We are not on the list for those to be closed but if other ones appeal and win their appeal then that might change.”

Others branches thought to have been saved include Higham, Pakenham, Rougham, Thurston and Woolpit.

Another sub postmaster, who did not wish to be identified, said: “We've all been told what will happen in an email but we've also been told not to discuss it and to forward any media enquiries to the publicity department. The EADT has been so supportive of us and I'd like to say thank you but I cannot discuss this particular issue.”

A further sub-postmaster criticised the length of time the review had taken and said it had been a stressful period for everybody involved.

“We've got people coming in and asking about it and we can't tell them what is happening,” they added.

When the EADT learnt about the proposed closures it re-launched its Save Our Post Offices appeal and thousands of readers signed a petition campaigning to safe-guard their future.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, speaking yesterday before a vote on the proposed cuts, said: “There is concern verging on fear in some of my villages and it has been a very distressing time for us all.”

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said: “I am reasonably hopeful that the number that will close will be relatively small in west Suffolk.”

A spokeswoman for Post Office Ltd said the announcement would be made on Wednesday and that they had neither the number of post offices that would close in west Suffolk or a list of their names.

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