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Thetford and Diss residents have an anxious wait over future of post offices branches

PUBLISHED: 16:59 11 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:16 11 January 2017

Generic view of a sign outside a post office. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Generic view of a sign outside a post office. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Archant

Anxious residents in two towns concerned about the loss of their post offices will now await a six week consultation process to discuss the future of the branches.

Diss Post Office in the Market Place. 
Picture: Angela Sharpe Diss Post Office in the Market Place. Picture: Angela Sharpe

The post offices at Diss and Thetford are under threat of closure after the organisation announced 37 of its directly managed branches around the country are seeking “partners” to house the branches.

In other communities in the region, the post office has moved into retail stores including WHSmith and McColls.

WHSmith and McColls are both located on Mere Street in Diss and in Thetford there is a WHSmith on King Street.

Graham Minshull, leader of Diss Town Council, said he is “shocked and stunned” about the decision but has said the town and district councils will push for the Diss facility to remain on Market Street where it has been located for more than 60 years.

He said: “We will push to keep it open. Hopefully we can put up a good fight.

“I read it and re-read it when I first saw it. I thought, ‘they cannot close the post office in Diss’. It serves the town and surrounding communities.”

It is believed the staff were told about the changes on the day they were announced on Tuesday.

The Post Office will now advertise for potential retail partners. The registered interest will be considered and detailed proposals will be drawn up which will be subject to a six week public consultation, following which a final decision will be made.

A spokesman for the Post Office said they are at the early stage of the process and staff have been told it may take up to 18 months for changes to take effect.

They added: “The point of taking steps now is because neither of these branches will be sustainable for years to come and we need to find more cost effective ways of operating our services in these areas.

“Franchising is a model that works and most post office branches are run on this basis.

“The same services are provided for customers and in these locations we are looking to ensure that the branches are where people want them i.e. high streets and central locations.”

Last year, the Post Office relocated or franchised around 40 of their Crown branches into retail stores and all, they state, are within short distances of the previous branch and sometimes in the same street.

Views of Diss residents

Eric and Margaret Reeder, who are 90 and 87 respectively, said they were felt “anxious” about the situation.

Mrs Reeder, who lives in Diss, said: “What will we do without our post office? There aren’t many big spaces to take the amount of people who queue out there. We just cannot imagine where it is going to go. We are anxious about what will happen. We don’t drive now so we cannot go anywhere else. It is a convenient place in Diss.”

Betty Coates, from Diss, who uses the post office regularly to collect her pension, said:

“It is deplorable. I think a lot of old people will be affected. It is going to be awkward for old people to go to Eye or Scole. It is a shame.”

Elizabeth Mooney, who lives in Pearce Road, Diss, said: “I have a granddaughter who has a severely disabled child and it is almost the only place in Diss where she can manage to enter his pushchair. Also I have seen those with mobility scooters manage to actually get to the counter, which is marvellous.”

What are your thoughts on the changes to the post offices in Diss and Thetford? Email your thoughts to rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk or call reporter Rebecca Murphy on 01379 651176.

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