Churches plea over post office cuts

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Church leaders yesterday joined forces to support a new campaign urging worshippers to shun the internet and telephone to help save rural post offices.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Church leaders yesterday joined forces to support a new campaign urging worshippers to shun the internet and telephone to help save rural post offices.

The Church of England and the Methodist Church in Norfolk are throwing their weight behind a new campaign spearheaded by the Rev Lorna Allies.

The new rural adviser for the Anglicans and Methodists in Norfolk wants Christians to turn their backs on the internet and telephone and return to their local post offices to buy their stamps, collect their pensions and renew their vehicle licences.

Leaflets encouraging churchgoers to make an effort to sustain their local post office are being distributed to congregations across the county.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, and the Rev Graham Thompson, chairman of the East Anglia District of the Methodist Church, are also backing the campaign.

Most Read

Opposition is mounting to the proposals for government ministers to close up to 14,500 post offices across the UK which could hit rural areas hardest.

The network is losing £4m a week as decisions to pay pensions and child benefit directly into bank accounts has cost the service dear. The sale of television licences, driving licences and passports has also been switched to online sites or other outlets, depriving the post office of further lucrative business.

And, yesterday, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he would be trying to table an adjournment debate concerning measures to save rural branches.

"We are encouraging our congregations to take seriously the threat to the Post Office Network and to support those who most need their local post office by giving it their custom," said Mr Thompson.

"It may not be convenient to do so, but by some personal involvement and sacrifice we hope to be able to make some difference to each local situation.

"The challenge for each church and chapelgoer is to make as much use as they can of their local post office in the hope of keeping it alive for others."

Bishop Graham said: "Post offices provide some of the social and economic glue that keeps rural communities together.

"They're under threat. Part of the threat is that we don't use them enough.

"That can change. Our rural adviser has challenged us with some simple ways in which church members, and others too, can show how much we value our post offices and our concern for those who depend on them. I wish this campaign well."