Resort's pensioners could suffer

ELDERLY customers will be the ones to suffer if a Felixstowe post office is forced to close this Christmas, to safeguard the future of others at the resort.

By Richard Cornwell

ELDERLY customers will be the ones to suffer if a Felixstowe post office is forced to close this Christmas, to safeguard the future of others at the resort.

Sub postmistress Marilyn Giles, who has run the Beach Station Road branch for the past decade, said she was very sad that the Post Office had announced the branch as earmarked for closure.

"It is a very sad and will be a tragedy for the elderly people round here, some of whom will not be able to walk to other post offices," said Mrs Giles.

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"The problem is that we have lost customers over the years because the Post Office limits us in what services we can offer.

"Now that benefits and pensions are being paid straight into bank accounts we will have even less work to do. The fact that we cannot handle car tax had been an annoyance to many sub post offices over the years.

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"Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times. We have been very lucky because we have some lovely customers and they are more like friends than customers."

Mrs Giles does sell other goods in the shop but says if the post office facility is withdrawn the store will have to close as it relies on the post office to attract much of its custom.

"The two sides of the business are dependent on one another," she said.

The Beach Station Road branch has existed for more than 40 years but will close in mid December unless there is a rethink.

George Hooper, Post Office head of area, said a final decision would not be taken until customers' views had been obtained.

"Proposals to close post office branches are not made without considerable research and discussions, so we are anxious that customers and all relevant organisations understand our rationale and have the opportunity to give us their views," he said.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that customers in Felixstowe will continue to have reasonable access to local post office products and services.

"Even after any changes are made, well over 95 per cent of customers will still live within a mile of a post office branch.

"Having met with the subpostmaster from the Beach Station Road branch and also with other local subpostmasters, we have concluded that if it were to close, it would improve the long-term prospects of the other branches in the area.

"In particular, we have made sure that Bent Hill, Felixstowe and Cavendish post office branches would be fully geared up to cope with extra customers should the closure go ahead."

Anyone who wishes to express their concern over the closure should write to Mr Hooper by October 16 at National Consultation Team, PO Box 641, St Albans AL1 5XN.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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