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Town still in the dark after sudden closure of only post office

PUBLISHED: 14:18 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:44 30 August 2018

The Post Office and WH Smith store in Downham Market has been closed for eight weeks. Picture: Ian Burt

The Post Office and WH Smith store in Downham Market has been closed for eight weeks. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

People living in Downham Market are still in the dark more than a month after the sudden closure of the town's only post office.

The Post Office and WH Smith store in Downham Market has been closed for eight weeks. Picture: Ian BurtThe Post Office and WH Smith store in Downham Market has been closed for eight weeks. Picture: Ian Burt

The High Street branch closed on July 12 with no explanation and residents have had to travel more than a mile away to the nearest branches in Denver and Wimbotsham.

Mayor of Downham Market, David Sharman, said the Post Office was still refusing to explain why the branch closed and when it will reopen.

“To be perfectly frank they are really reluctant to give any reaction,” he said. “All the local people are really feeling it. 
“We have to bear in mind a lot of pensioners live in Downham Market - one woman stopped me in the street and said she relied on her pension to get her groceries.

“There is a lot of bad feeling of the attitude of the Post Office, if they can give a date of when it will open it will give people something, there’s a total lack of information.

“Nobody seems to know what is happening.”

Terry McCormack, 72, said he has been walking past the store nearly everyday for four weeks to find out when it will reopen.

Mr McCormack, from Perth, Australia, said he was visiting the town to see his 90-year-old mother-in-law, who relies on the post office to withdraw money.

“She uses a wheelchair and has no way of getting to another place,” he added. “It’s worrying her because she doesn’t know where she stands.

Speaking outside the store, one resident said: “The post office is really busy, there’s a queue usually out here in the morning.

“There’s a real demand for it, it’s an important part of the community.”

Another resident added: “I think it’s a bit of a nuisance. If you’re walking [to Denver or Wimbotsham] it’s a bit of a pain.”

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has been pressing for alternative arrangements to be made in Downham Market so that customers of the Post Office do not have to travel to neighbouring villages.

Ms Truss said she has written to the managing director of the Post Office calling for urgent action.

She added: “The ongoing closure of the Post Office is causing considerable inconvenience for local residents.

“It is not realistic to expect customers, many with mobility issues, to travel to neighbouring villages.”

The Post Office did not respond to a request for comment about why the branch closed and when it will re-open.

A Post Office spokesman said: “We understand and appreciate how much communities rely on our services and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of Downham Market Post office since 12 July.

“We would like to reassure customers that the decision to suspend services at any of our branches is never taken lightly, and we will only do so when it is warranted.

“We are committed to providing a Post Office in Downham Market and we are looking to see how we can restore Post Office services to the area as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, alternative branches for Downham Market are Denver and Wimbotsham.”

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