PLANS to axe four post offices in Hyndburn have come under fire - with councillors vowing to fight the proposals all the way.
Post offices in Nuttall Street and Whalley Road, Accrington, and Union Road and Stanhill Road, Oswaldtwistle, have been earmarked for closure under the Post Office's urban reinvention programme.
Royal Mail is restructuring its network of 9,000 urban post offices, claiming that in many cities and towns there are too many post offices competing for too little business.
But councillors have warned that closing four of Hyndburn's 19 post offices will bring suffering to the elderly and vulnerable.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "I think it's absolutely disgraceful. I know that a lot of elderly people use these post offices and it's a particularly distressing blow to Oswaldtwistle because there is no bank in that part of town. We will be asking the Post Office to reconsider."
County Councillor Dorothy Westell said it was unfair for Oswaldtwistle to lose two post offices.
She said: "It is so unfair to take away these facilities. For old people to be forced to have bank accounts and not to be able to collect their pensions at their local post office is awful."
"It's also short-sighted, because I think people spend locally when they go to the local post office."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope urged residents to complain about the plans while they still had the chance, saying: "It is a complicated issue - in one sense post offices are businesses and if they can't attract custom you can understand why they might have to close. But on the other hand, they are not just businesses - they are a focal point for the whole community and they provide specific services that people need."
"I think the closure programme is too extreme. I will be taking part in the consultation with the Post Office myself and I would urge others to do the same."
Eddie Herbert, Post Office head of area, said: "Proposals to close post offices are not made without considerable research and discussion, so we are anxious that customers and all relevant organisations understand why we consider it necessary to reduce the size of our network. The harsh reality is that many urban offices are struggling to survive."
He said that the post offices had been affected by a declining number of customers, increasing running costs and the new system of benefits being paid direct into bank accounts.
He claimed the closures would improve the long-term prospects of other urban post offices in the area.
He concluded: "Before we make a final decision we are keen to hear of any concerns customers and others might have about these proposed closures and about the services provided by the nearest alternative offices."
"People can write to me at National Consultation Team, PO Box 2060, Watford WD18 8ZW, by 16 July."