Protest over threat to village shop
VILLAGERS have protested to prevent the closure of a village's only shop and post office.The decision by Alan and Judy Lewis to ask for planning permission to turn their business into a house has been criticised by residents in Ufford, near Woodbridge.
VILLAGERS have protested to prevent the closure of a village's only shop and post office.
The decision by Alan and Judy Lewis to ask for planning permission to turn their business into a house has been criticised by residents in Ufford, near Woodbridge.
The couple told Suffolk Coastal District Council that when they bought the shop and post office in Lower Ufford three years ago the business was on the verge of being closed.
''Sadly, even though we invested a large sum of money, totally refurbished and re-equipped the premises, trade has not increased sufficiently and it remains totally unviable.
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''Despite adverts, leaflet drops and appeals over the last three years in an attempt to turn back the tide it has been to no avail. With ever increasing strong competition of the superstores and the lack of passing trade, we unfortunately have been unable to meet our aim.
''Now, with the final nail in the coffin with the loss of the amount of pensions and allowances collected from the post office, it leaves us with no option but to close down and revert back to living accommodation,'' said Mr and Mrs Lewis in support of their application.
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Some villagers said the couple were held in high regard and were well liked in the village and they were disappointed that Mr and Mrs Lewis had not received enough support.
Correspondence received by the district council shows that the possible closure has prompted a wide-ranging debate involving many villagers.
Jackie Wall, treasurer of Ufford Parent and Toddler Group, said: ''The group does all their banking transactions and has their photocopying done there. It has also been such a friendly shop to send my three children safely to buy their own sweets. Please do not let it shut.''
Jennifer Whitmarsh and Sean McMillan complained that the shop did not always stock basic items and this did not encourage repeat visits.
''Once gone our village shop will be lost forever. It has been there a long time, at least 100 years, we understand. It does not seem right that the village should lose its shop so easily,'' they said.
Villagers urged the shop owners to alter their trading hours and open later in the evening when people returned to Ufford from their jobs.
Elderly residents have warned that they will lose a valuable social meeting place if the business closes and villagers have asked that the business is put on the market to establish if anyone is interested in keeping it open.