December 12 2013 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Friday, September 6, 2013
Hundreds of people attended a rally outside a Norwich post office yesterday evening to show their opposition to plans to move the branch to another location in the city.
Protestors, including a number of elderly residents who rely on the service, gathered outside the Vauxhall Street branch to call on the Post Office to drop plans to move the facility to Hurn Chemist in Unthank Road, with many worried that elderly customers and people with mobility problems would not be able to walk to an Unthank Road branch.
Representatives of the Green Party and Labour Party were also present, with a public meeting planned to take place on September 16 at the Vauxhall Centre in Johnson Place to discuss keeping the post office in Vauxhall Street.
The concerns have arisen because the existing sub-postmaster did not want to continue running the facility, prompting Post Office Ltd to invite applications to run the post office.
Two shops applied, the Vauxhall Street Pharmacy, next door to the existing premises and Hurn Chemist, with the Unthank Road applicant being selected pending the resignation of the current sub-postmaster.
Emma Corlett, a Labour county councillor, said as well as making it more difficult for elderly residents to ge to the post office, the move could also jeopardise the vitality of the Suffolk Square shopping parade, where the existing branch is based.
She said: “Historically, it has been a really difficult parade of shops for businesses to sustain themselves, so it is not just the post office, it is all other shops in the parade that rely on the footfall from the post office.
“If it closes it will be another empty shop and there will be a real risk to the economic vitality of this parade of shops.”
City councillor Paul Neale, from the Green Party, added: “Unthank Road is too far to go for a lot of people here and the cash machine will also disappear meaning there will be no cash machine between here and the city.
“Shopkeepers here are working on a knife edge and are relying on the footfall generated by the post office.”
David Gray, a resident of nearby Winchester Tower, warned the post office was an essential part of the community in that area and if it moved it could affect the communal spirit that existed, which he regarded as one of the strongest in Norwich.
He added: “The post office has always been here. It is like the pub, it is the centre of the community. This area of Norwich is a vibrant community where people care about each other. There isn’t this sense of community in other parts of the city that I have lived in.”