‘Don’t rip out town’s heart out’ - Forces rally in fight against post office closure in Diss
- Credit: Archant
Everything from a job centre to a post-bank have been floated as ways to boost the use of the Diss's post office and stave off a planned closure of the branch.
About 100 residents joined a protest meeting at the Diss Youth and Community Centre yesterday (Thursday, May 11) to voice their fury at Post Office plans to shoehorn the services offered at the Market Place branch into another of the town's businesses, possibly the WH Smith.
Richard Bacon, who is running for re-election as South Norfolk MP, Graham Minshull, Diss Town Council leader and Andy Furey, national officer of the Communication Workers' Union all spoke out against the closure, saying it would be a disaster for the area.
They sat at a table lined with banners declaring the Post Office's plans amounted nothing less than 'ripping the heart out of our town'.
Mr Furey and Mr Bacon said residents should even go as far as to boycott any business that bids for the Market Place branch premises, giving the Post Office an excuse to move out.
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READ MORE: Post Office closure plans for Thetford and Diss are plannedMr Bacon said: 'We need to be prepared to play a little bit of hardball with this.
'The question is not: 'are we as a community against change?' The question is: 'What's right for Diss?'
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'The Market Place is the centre of gravity in the town. The jewel in that crown is the post office.'
Mr Bacon said a job centre, business, banks or building societies could be co-located at the Post Office branch to cement it as a busy hub.
Mr Furey said a bank run by the Post Office itself would be a perfect way of making branches more relevant.
He said: 'The Post Office could be a post bank. Commercial banks don't have the best reputation at the moment and people are looking for an alternative. 'A post bank could be that.'
Fears for the future
Mr Furey also said putting the post office into WH Smiths would lead to a drop in standards of service and the to the current staff losing their jobs.
Mr Minshull said shifting the branch into a shop could easily leave the town without any postal services at all.
He said: 'What happens if the post offices goes into a shop and in six months after that the shop goes bust? Or they decide it's not for them?'
Mr Furey encouraged people to write to Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells at firstname.lastname@example.org to state their opposition to the plans.
The Post Office was invited to send a representative to the meeting, but declined.
The Post Office announced in January that it would be shutting its Diss premises - which it has occupied for more than 60 years.
It cited a change in consumer habits and the cost of maintaining town centre premises as the main reason for the move.
But since the announcement was made there has been an outcry from residents, with more than 1,500 people signing a petition to save the stand-alone branch.