Post Offices face knock-out blow
By DOMINICCHESSUMdominic.firstname.lastname@example.orgIt galvanised communities and brought young and old alike on to the streets in protest - there was even a song written about the struggle.
It galvanised communities and brought young and old alike on to the streets in protest - there was even a song written about the struggle.
But an air of defeat hung over several towns and villages in north Norfolk this week as Post Office Ltd confirmed that branches at Banningham, Marsham, Cromer Road in Sheringham, Gimingham and East Runton were to close.
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The offices were five out of the 69 post offices in Norfolk and West Suffolk which were placed on the company's hit-list earlier this year.
After months of public consultation, and having already told subpostmasters of their business's fate last week, Post Offices bosses announced publicly on Tuesday that all but three of the branches would be shut.
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The axemen have spared branches at Beeston, near Dereham, New Buckenham, near Attleborough, and Vauxhall Street in Norwich.
After months of campaigning the news has come as a bitter blow for the rural communities in north Norfolk whose arguments as to why their vital lifelines should be saved fell on deaf ears.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who campaigned hard on behalf of all the threatened branches in the district said: “I am disgusted and deeply depressed both by the process and by the outcome.
“People went to an enormous effort to demonstrate the case for keeping these post offices and they have now been kicked in the teeth.
“We are left with the feeling that we were confronted all the way along with a fait accompli.
“For an easy life Post Office Ltd stuck with the closure programme even when the case for retention was overwhelming.
“We are dealing with elderly communities in rural areas where vibrant businesses have now been kicked.”
Though subpostmasters were told their fate by telephone over the last week, they were told they could not make the news public until Tuesday
The embargo left many fearful their compensation would be affected if they spoke out.
The closures will take place gradually over the coming months.
Laura Tarling, Post Office Ltd's network development manager for Norfolk and West Suffolk, said: “These are difficult decisions which have not been taken lightly.
“We have considered very carefully all the comments made during the public consultation. We believe that the amended plan offers our customers across Norfolk and West Suffolk, the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the government's minimum access criteria and the other factors the government has asked us to consider.”