WEST NORFOLK: Fenland villages could be hit by shock post office closure announcement tomorrow

PUBLISHED: 11:20 25 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 June 2010

THE closure of almost 70 Norfolk post offices will be announced tomorrow and the effects are certain to be felt in the Fens. The announcement is part of an unprecedented cull branded disastrous for vulnerable people and the rural economy.

Twenty-four ho

THE closure of almost 70 Norfolk post offices will be announced tomorrow and the effects are certain to be felt in the Fens.

The announcement is part of an unprecedented cull branded "disastrous" for vulnerable people and the rural economy.

Twenty-four hours before the official announcement of nationwide closures, we have discovered that in Norfolk 61 will shut outright and eight will be replaced with an "outreach service".

The total is 22 per cent of the county's 316 post office branches and - according to one MP - the closures will be the "death knell" for village communities.

It is also a higher number than the 40-60 closures expected as part of the Post Office's network change programme, which will see the axe fall on 2,500 of the 14,500 post offices in England and Wales.

All of the threatened branches will be named tomorrow, when the closure plan for Norfolk will be put out to public consultation. But some details of the area plan were leaked yesterday.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: "It's effectively 70 closures in Norfolk. I'm appalled at the sheer scale of the closures; the post office is the lifeblood of a lot of small communities and it's a social hub as well. It's a grim, grim day for the rural economy."

Norfolk County Council said the Post Office had "little regard to the real impact" of the closures, and urged everyone in the county to get involved in the six-week public consultation.

The council will be working with district councils and the rural community council to assess the impact of the proposed closures.

A Post Office spokesman said: "We need to reduce the number of branches to reduce costs and increase the business to branches that remain open."

The current network is losing more than £3 million a week, as more and more of its products and services, from pensions to TV licences to car tax, become available online.

Each area plan undergoes six weeks of public consultation before a final decision is made. Elsewhere, in areas where plans have been published, a handful of branches have been saved by local protests.


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