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North Norfolk marches to save POs

PUBLISHED: 14:45 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 13 July 2010

Waving banners and placards and led by a guitarist and children's hero Postman Pat, a small community took to the streets in force at the weekend to defend its "thriving" village post office.

Waving banners and placards and led by a guitarist and children's hero Postman Pat, a small community took to the streets in force at the weekend to defend its “thriving” village post office.

More than 300 people gathered on Top Common, East Runton, on Saturday morning to march through the streets in a display designed to show the importance they place on their local counter service.

The protest was mirrored with smaller gatherings in Gimingham, Sheringham and Fakenham, all of which have post offices under threat.

It is hoped the coordinated day of action in north Norfolk will send a clear message to Post Office bosses that the closures will be deeply felt in rural areas.

The march in East Runton far exceeded expectations and people of all ages chanted “save our post office” and sang “we shall not be closed” as they snaked through the streets.

Some held aloft “fight for your post office” posters while other banner slogans included “cum u on save our pust orfice” and “stamp out closure”.

The main A149 between Cromer and Sheringham had to be closed for a time, resulting in large traffic tailbacks, as protestors gathered outside the post office in the high street.

Parish Councillor Mike Ashwell, who helped organise the march, said: “The support is fantastic.

“This is the biggest thing East Runton has seen in a long long time.

“The post office is important because it is not only a thriving business but is also a place where the community meets.

“It is a business that is growing and it is ridiculous that a business which is growing and thriving should close.”

Sub-postmaster Stephen Bacon said he was overwhelmed by the show of support.

He said: “You can see the strength of feeling and we also represent those people who are unable to march and would be unable to travel to another post office.

“In East Runton we have an elderly population and thousands of tourists.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the turnout had been “incredible”.

Addressing the crowd in East Runton he slammed Post Office Ltd's ongoing consultation exercise and said the branch must stay open.

He said: “The crazy and outrageous thing with this consultation is that if we save one post office they are going to close another in Norfolk. Now is that that a public consultation?

“We are not going to accept the closure of these post offices.”

A total of 69 branches in Norfolk and West Suffolk are facing the axe with Post Office bosses saying the closures are needed in order to help put the business on a sustainable footing.

Post Office Ltd says it is currently loosing £3.5m a week and serving four million fewer customers a week than it was year ago.

The closure proposals are out to consultation until June 2 and everybody is being urged to write individually to Post Office limited in support of their local branch.

Letters should be sent to: National Consultation Team, Post Office Ltd, Freepost Consultation Team.

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