Post Office fight could reach courts

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save their post offices have used new rules to claim at least £150,000 in legal aid for a Judicial Review to force a U-turn.

John Howard

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save their post offices have used new rules to claim at least £150,000 in legal aid for a Judicial Review to force a U-turn.

Post Office Ltd will be asked to confirm within seven days that they will not implement their decision to shut the branches - otherwise residents say they will have no option but to seek an injunction to prevent them closing.

At Stowmarket the community was devastated by news that they would lose two branches after a huge campaign to save them, with a rally by 200 people. And at neighbouring Old Newton villagers were shell-shocked at losing one of their few remaining facilities.

Now campaigner Rosie Carter, who was among those leading the battle to save the service in Stowmarket for families and pensioners, has met with a barrister in London.

She has discovered that new rules that only came into force a few months ago allow communities to claim legal aid.

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Mrs Carter said: “Judicial Reviews cost at least £150,000 and we have put in a joint one for Old Newton and Crown Street, and are looking into Combs Ford too.

“We are today asking the Post Office to reconsider. If they do not reply in seven days we will seek an injunction which will prevent them from implementing there decision.

“It will stop the closures for the moment while the courts look at our application for a review, which is a hearing in London later this month.”

Campaigners say the Post Office has not done enough for the disabled, with vulnerable people left walking too far to access the services that are left.

David Ruffley, Conservative MP for the area, welcomed the decision by lawyers acting on behalf of local campaigners to go ahead with a Judicial Review of the decision by Post Office Ltd to close Crown Street Post Office and the Old Newton branch.

Mr Ruffley said: “This is excellent news for Stowmarket and Old Newton. It confirms my view that the decision to close these branches was based on inaccurate information and totally ignored the excellent cases mounted against the closures by local campaigners which highlighted errors in the Post Office data.”

What do you think about the proposals to shut the post offices? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, Press House, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk