Villagers rally to save post offices

HUNDREDS of villagers across Suffolk have rallied around their post offices to call on mail bosses to scrap plans to axe the branches. Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley yesterday visited three post offices threatened with closure, including Gislingham, Old Newton and Fornham All Saints.

HUNDREDS of villagers across Suffolk have rallied around their post offices to call on mail bosses to scrap plans to axe the branches.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley yesterday visited three post offices threatened with closure, including Gislingham, Old Newton and Fornham All Saints.

He was handed a petition signed by 300 local residents from Gislingham, near Eye, after Post Office Limited announced it wanted to close the branch and replace it with a nine-hours-a-week outreach service.

The petition was been organised by a local action group called GRIPP - Gislingham Residents' Initiative to Protect Our Post Office.

Mr Ruffley also visited villagers fighting to save Old Newton village post office.

Melvyn Barnes, chairman of working group appointed by parish and community council to oppose closure, said: “It went extremely well and we gathered a large crowd here and he told them his views on the closure of the post office and answered questions from people.

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“One of the things that I raised with him was how impossible it is getting information from the Post Office about how they decide which ones should close over others.”

The post office in Fornham All Saints is one of seven in the west Suffolk area earmarked for the axe.

But St Edmundsbury Borough Council has urged Post Office Ltd to keep three of those affected - Fornham, Horringer and Chalkstone - and the campaign has also been taken on by Mr Ruffley.

He met with worried villagers and staff at the Fornham post office, which gets nearly 500 customers passing through its doors each week.

Lisa Whitehouse, daughter of the sub-postmaster, said: “There are lots of reasons to keep this post office open. We've had 150 letters of support from our customers urging Post Office Ltd to keep us open.”

She said the nearest branch, if Fornham closed, was 1.5 miles away and not accessible by a direct bus service and the post office was both socially and economically important to Fornham and the rural area beyond.

A spokeswoman for Post Office said: “We believe these proposals offer the best prospect for a sustainable way forward for Post Office services in Norfolk and west Suffolk bearing in mind the minimum access criteria and the other factors to which we have to have regard.”