Holt postmaster back into battle over local services

A north Norfolk postmaster says Royal Mail's plans to close some sorting offices in the area will cause hardship for local people and could see him face losing his business for the second time in just a few years.

Andrew Worsdale lost his Sheringham sub-post office in country-wide government cuts of three years ago, but found himself back behind the counter last summer after taking on the job of postmaster at Holt

He says part of the attraction of the Cromer Road business was the attached sorting office, which, along with sorting offices at Aylsham and Wells, Royal Mail plans to close in early 2012.

This will leave Mr Worsdale's landlords – a London-based property company – with a half-empty site.

'This decision really puts my post office into doubt,' he said. 'When I bought the business, I assumed that I would be here with the sorting office behind me, which meant that people could come in and pick up their parcels at any time during opening hours, not just from 7am-10am as is the case at Sheringham, for instance.'

Mr Worsdale says he fears closures will have a wide-ranging impact.

'First and foremost I am concerned about our postmen, who are worried about losing their jobs or whether they will be required to relocate,' he said.

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'But this decision is also bad news for local people, as there will be no personal service and no deliveries on bikes, all the mail will be delivered in vans.

Online petitions have been set up protesting against the closures of all three sorting offices and Mr Worsdale urged people to make their feelings known.

'I think people should protest, through our MP or through whatever channels necessary,' he said. 'Sorting offices do close and there are areas where they are no longer viable, but we are very busy and I intend to fight to make sure that Holt doesn't end up as another town with its post office moved into a local shop.'

A Royal Mail spokesman said: 'We can confirm that we are in the early stages of talking to our people about transferring our Holt and Wells delivery operations to Fakenham in early 2012 as part of the ongoing modernisation of our business. Maintaining the high level of service that our customers expect and deserve will be at the heart of our plans.

'It is too early to comment on job losses or give details of where people can go to collect mail – we will of course let customers know when these are confirmed.'

Aylsham town councillors have also raised concerns about the loss of the sorting office there, as the Hungate Street post office is set to close and relocate elsewhere in town.