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Post Office bosses come under fire for closure plans

THE row over plans to axe four Hyndburn post offices flared up this week when members of Hyndburn Council held crisis talks with Post Office bosses.

THE row over plans to axe four Hyndburn post offices flared up this week when members of Hyndburn Council held crisis talks with Post Office bosses.

Two representatives from Post Office Ltd were invited to a meeting of the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee to explain the proposals, which were announced last week.

But the pair faced a barrage of criticism from councillors, who accused them of "tearing the heart out of every community".

Post offices in Nuttall Street and Whalley Road, Accrington, and Union Road and Stanhill Road, Oswaldtwistle, have been earmarked for closure as part of a national restructuring of the Post Office's 9,000 urban post offices. It claims there are too many branches competing for too little business and by closing some it will safeguard the future of others.

But furious residents have launched a campaign to save them, organising a number of petitions in a bid to get as many people behind them as possible.

Councillor Malcolm Pritchard told the representatives - Wendy Martin, North-West external relations manager for the Royal Mail group, and Nick Moriarty, retail line manager for Post Office Ltd - that he was fiercely opposed to the plans.

Councillor Pritchard, who said the closure of the Whalley Road branch would make life extremely difficult for his wheelchair-bound son, added: "It is diabolical. You should be ashamed. You haven't thought this out."

Councillor Tim O'Kane also raised concerns about the distance elderly people, many without cars, would have to travel to their nearest alternative post office.

And he said if the post offices were closed down, the owners of the buildings would be restricted in how to re-use them because of the ongoing freeze on new house-building.

Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "I think we're going to have to accept that the post office is not a public service any more. I really do find this very disturbing."

Ms Martin promised their views would be included in a six-week consultation they were carrying out before making a final decision.

She said: "If there are any issues we haven't considered or are not aware of, then we need to know about them. We have put a lot of research in already but we may not have considered everything."

She added that their starting point for choosing the offices for closure had been to ask every sub-postmaster whether they wanted to leave. Then they looked at other factors, such as the nearest alternatives and the services provided, before deciding which would be the most viable for closure.

Anyone wishing to object can contact Eddie Herbert, Head of Area, Post Office Ltd, C/O National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford, WD18 8ZW by Friday 16 July.


Stuart Pike
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