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Closure of post office would be ‘body blow’ to community, councillor claims

PUBLISHED: 20:27 22 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 24 February 2020

City councillor Sally Button encouraging people to sign a petition to see Bowthorpe post office saved. Photo: Sally Button

City councillor Sally Button encouraging people to sign a petition to see Bowthorpe post office saved. Photo: Sally Button

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The closure of a post office near Norwich has been described as a “body blow” to the community by a local councillor.

Bowthorpe's post office will close within the next year when the area's Martin's store, at the Main Centre, shuts its doors on January 21, 2021.

A spokesperson for the McColls Retail Group, which owns the business, said: "Having explored all options, regretfully we have taken the difficult decision to cease trading at the Martin's store in Bowthorpe, Norwich, next year.

"The store's last day of trading will be Friday, January 21, 2021. We are saddened to no longer be operating the store and our priority has been to support all affected colleagues."

The post office is likely to close before the shop, they said.

Sally Button, Norwich city councillor for the Bowthorpe area, said the community was shocked to learn of the closure.

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"This would be a terrible body blow to the community and beyond," she said, "who rely on it for banking, bill payments, letters and parcels, together with all the other valuable services it provides daily.

"It would also potentially leave the community without an operating [cash machine]. It feels to us and the many residents we have already spoken to that the management of McColl's haven't thought this through and need to urgently reconsider their decision."

She said she and fellow Labour councillors in the area would be launching a petition to keep it open.

A spokesperson for the Post Office said: "The operator for Bowthorpe Post Office has recently resigned and the premises that we do not own will be withdrawn from Post Office in January 2021. The shop where the Post Office is based is also closing in January 2021.

"We understand how important a Post Office is to a community and we are committed to providing a Post Office in the area. We are looking at ways to provide Post Office services. Any retailer interested in incorporating a Post Office in their premises should email ND.enquiries@postoffice.co.uk or 0333 345 5560, then select option 2. The vacancy will soon be advertised on www.runapostoffice.co.uk"

A government report from October 2019, looking at the future of the Post Office, says the network has stabilised as roughly 11,500 branches but remains "fragile".

It says many sub-postmasters and retailers find it challenging to make the post offices viable.

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