PLANS to close four Hyndburn post offices have sparked a wave of fury.
Hyndburn Council immediately vowed to fight the proposals, which leader Peter Britcliffe described as "a bolt from the blue" and "a massive blow to the borough".
Facing the chop are post offices in Station Road, Huncoat, Market Street, Church, St Hubert’s in Queen Street, Great Harwood, and Belthorn.
They are among 58 branches in Lancashire and 2,500 across the country which Post Office Ltd wants to close to ease crippling losses of £4M a week.
But many see them as a lifeline for the elderly and Councillor Britcliffe said: "Post offices are a vital ingredient of every community and closing these four would be a massive blow to Hyndburn. I urge everyone to get behind our campaign and sign a petition which we have set up in council offices."
Huncoat ward councillor Dave Parkins said: "I know people say ‘use it or lose it’ but at the end of the day Huncoat is an up-and-coming developing area and taking away a much-needed facility is potentially devastating."
Councillor Lynn Wilson of Great Harwood said: "A large proportion of elderly people will be affected by the closure of the St Hubert’s post office and will have to travel up the hill to Glebe Street. It’s a real worry as they will need to get transport, or get someone else to go for them, which means they are in danger of becoming isolated.
"It will be a sad loss for Great Harwood. I know some people may say we are lucky to have two post offices but for the elderly and young mums the inconvenience will be substantial.
"The closures as a whole are sad. Everything nowadays is about profit and sadly the service element is no longer important. This is simply another door shutting."
Church councillor and county councillor Jean Battle said: "I am disgusted that our post office is closing. This is going to devastate the local community which centres itself around the post office. People will have to travel further to get the same service."
Councillor Marlene Haworth, whose ward covers Belthorn, said: "I am appalled at this news. The closure of our post office will have a tremendous impact on village life as it provides a valuable service to our local community.
"Elderly people rely on the post office and they will now have to travel to Guide or Oswaldtwistle to get their pensions. As the area has a limited bus service, it will be really difficult for them."
Post Office Ltd has announced a six-week consultation period in which customers will be able to have their say.
Richard Lynds, network development manager for the North West, said: "Taking the decision to close any post office branch is always very difficult and we know it will cause concern to many of our customers.
"We want to ensure that everyone who uses, relies on, or has any concern about post office services is fully aware of the proposed changes and able to give their views on them."
Peter Harrison, East Lancashire branch manager for the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, said: "We are regrettably supporting the closure of these branches. It is very sad and inconvenient for the people who will be affected but Post Office Ltd is a business that is losing over £4M a week. Changes in consumer habits have not helped the situation and the introduction of online banking and other facilities has reduced the number of people using these branches."
According to Post Office Ltd, 90 per cent of the population will still remain within one mile of the nearest branch and 99 per cent will be within three miles.
The sub-postmasters at the threatened branches said they were not allowed to comment under the terms of their contract.