Villagers back post offiice fight

Campaigners crusading to save Reydon post office united behind their MP to demand answers from company bosses at a public meeting. Almost 150 villagers gathered to voice their opposition to plans to close their community lifeline as national managers attempt to streamline the service which is losing £4m every week.

Campaigners crusading to save Reydon post office united behind their MP to demand answers from company bosses at a public meeting on Thursday night.

Almost 150 villagers gathered to voice their opposition to plans to close their community lifeline as national managers attempt to streamline the service which is losing £4m every week.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer told the partisan audience he regarded Reydon as one of the "marginal" branches of the 83 in Suffolk and East Essex earmarked for closure after the six-week consultation ends on November 19.

He said the fight was not over and appealed for every household to sign a campaign petition which already boasted 1,200 signatures.

A senior Post Office manager defended the decision to close the branch for financial reasons and stressed the need to remain competitive.

Mr Gummer said: "What is happening today is the result of not doing things properly over the last 20 years, and the result is that we will lose our local post offices at the very time the government decides we should not be using our cars. It is not possible for them to say that this is an unprofitable post office for them. What they really mean is that it would be more profitable if they amalgamated it with Southwold, and that is not acceptable.

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"This is a growing community which needs a post office. This is a battle worth fighting and there are questions worth asking."

Mr Gummer asked how much money would be saved by closing the popular outlet run by sub-postmaster Matthew Barbrook.

But Craig Tuthill, regional development manager for the Post Office, angered villagers by refusing to answer the question, claiming the figures were "commercially confidential".

He said the proposal to close the branch was made based on its profitability and the location of the Southwold branch less than a mile away - which already served twice as many customers.

"We are losing £4m a week and we cannot continue with that level of loss," he said.

"Every piece of business we do can be transacted somewhere else on the high street. We are in a competitive environment and no one is giving us hand-outs. We have to balance the books."

David Negus, chairman of the meeting at Reydon Primary School, on Jermyns Road, said a journey to Southwold was not a viable alternative because of a lack of parking or sufficient buses for disabled or elderly customers.

"As expected there was unanimous support for the post office to stay open and there were some very intelligent questions which will force the Post Office to make further investigations," he said.

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