Summit called to fight post office closures

CELIA WIGG Postmasters were urged last night to attend a summit in south Norfolk to help fight further post office closures in rural areas of the county.

CELIA WIGG

Postmasters were urged last night to attend a summit in south Norfolk to help fight further post office closures in rural areas of the county.

The government announced in May a controversial programme of planned closures of 2,500 post offices nationally over the next two years. This will be in addition to more than 4,000 branches that have already closed in recent years.

Michael Windridge, South Norfolk Council's cabinet member for business and economic development, said Post Office Ltd has announced a rolling programme of area consultations across Norfolk, to be followed by a more detailed area planning stage starting in January 2008.

And he is inviting all local sub-postmasters to a special meeting in September to help formulate the council's response to the rural network changes proposed by the company.

"The fact that the government is saying that no-one in rural areas should be more than three miles away from their nearest post office is no comfort whatsoever to people and businesses in our village communities, for whom their local post office is a real lifeline.

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"There are 41 post offices currently operating in south Norfolk. Every elected councillor in this authority understands what a vital role they play, especially because of the way in which they so often help to make small businesses, such as village shops, viable enterprises," he said.

Once the proposed list of closures for Norfolk is announced - expected in March 2008 - there will only be a six-week period of consultation.

Mr Windridge added: "I am determined to explore the potential to influence whatever may be the intended closures, proposed by Post Office Ltd, so that decisions are not taken on commercial grounds alone.

"The sad fact is that more than 50 post offices have closed in Norfolk during the past two years."

The meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Monday September 3 at South Norfolk House, Swan Lane, Long Stratton.

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