Locals voice their protest to proposed post office closures

POST office users have just six days left to raise their concerns about potential branch closures. The consultation period on the proposed closures ends on August 26 — and residents are being urged to make their views heard. This week The Hunts Post publi

POST office users have just six days left to raise their concerns about potential branch closures.

The consultation period on the proposed closures ends on August 26 - and residents are being urged to make their views heard.

This week The Hunts Post publishes a selection of the letters members of the public have written to Post Office Ltd.

Last month it was announced that post office branches at Catworth, Earith, Great Gidding, Great Gransden, Great Stukeley, Holme and Ramsey St Mary's were earmarked for closure.

Large-scale campaigns have been launched in many of the affected villages as people try to save their local branch.

More than 6,000 people signed Hunts Post petitions urging Post Office Ltd to consider the needs of rural communities during the closure programme.

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MP for Huntingdon Jonathan Djanogly described the proposed closures as "an attack on British rural life" while MP for North-West Cambridgeshire Shailesh Vara said any closures would have a "profound effect" on communities.

A decision on the future of the branches earmarked for closure is expected on September 17.

INFORMATION: To make your views heard, write to: National Consultation Team, Post Office Ltd, FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM, e-mail network.change@postoffice.co.uk or call 08457 22 33 44.

Dear Sir,

I have dictated this to a friend to write to you objecting to the closure of Great Gidding Post Office. I apologise for not writing myself, but I am unable to see clearly to write a letter.

I am 93, very poorly sighted and can manage to walk only 100 yards to the Post Office for stamps and provisions. What can I do when the post office and shop closes?

I will not be able to walk to this new post office van. How can I get my prescriptions? Currently I collect them for the post office.

Life is more than taxes and money. I fought in the Second World War for a better country. Being old means you are forgotten by this Government.

MAJOR (RETD) EF COMERFORD

CHAPEL END

GREAT GIDDING

Dear Sir,

Will someone see sense before it's too late and stop the planned closure of post offices within Huntingdonshire?

My family are especially concerned about the fate of Great Gidding post office. Our two grown-up children went to school in Great Gidding.

It seems particularly short-sighted to close the post office when there are plans well advanced for a new school in the village - which is the hub of a whole string of smaller hamlets and villages.

We often work from home (as lots of other people do around here) and it's a great boon having a post office which we know can cope with sending important packages abroad until 5pm (the proposed outreach van won't be able to), and where we can rely on friendly personal service from the postmaster - who also delivers newspapers to our door.

Shouldn't the Post Office be making life easier rather than harder for small rural businesses?

Sawtry - the proposed alternative post office - is a nightmare. Parking gets harder and harder, and there's always a long queue. We don't see how it can cope with any more trade. And goodness knows how anyone in a wheelchair manages inside its narrow aisles.

My daughter also points out that when she was a younger teenager she could cycle to Great Gidding - whereas Sawtry is not only a longer but a hillier ride.

Remember, it's not just elderly people who may not be able to drive. The Post Office seems to be asking people to walk, cycle or use even more petrol to go four, five, six or even seven miles to get their mail dealt with.

Please Post Office - listen to the people who live around here - we'll use it if we don't lose it!

FIONA AND HOWARD ANDERSON

HAMERTON

Dear Sir,

For the following reasons, the proposals to close and/or reduce services at Earith Post Office should be rejected:

1 The present postmaster and his staff took over a post office which offered, at best, a mediocre and partial service. Now, Earith PO offers a full and comprehensive range of services. It, the postmaster and his staff have become a highly significant part of Earith's village community and its life.

2 Sites in Earith are under consideration for a significant housing development. The proposed closure and/or reduction of Post Office services in Earith would be premature.

3 The nearest post offices to Earith are Somersham, Needingworth and Willingham. The overall time taken to travel to and from alternative post offices by public transport would be unacceptably long, particularly for the elderly.

4 The use of private transport to travel to and from alternative post offices would be environmentally unacceptable and would result in an additional fuel cost of about £1 per journey.

A AND C HUNTER BLAIR

HIGH STREET

EARITH

Dear Sir,

The post office in Earith is a vital part of the village community. The post office is at present in Bridge End Stores, the only shop in the village.

If the post office was to be lost, the shop cannot guarantee to be able to continue in business, as it may no longer be viable.

Earith is a growing village; a new large residential development is planned on a site of a former fruit distribution centre. This development would increase the village population by at least a third.

If our Post Office were to close it has been suggested we use alternative post offices. I can only think that the person who suggested this has never lived in a rural village without their own transport. To get to Somersham by public transport it would take 30 minutes travelling time at a cost of £1.70 single and £2.85 return. Buses are very infrequent and a wait of two hours is necessary before being able to return. This is the option recommended for people wanting to post a large parcel.

I have lived in Earith for over 28 years. In this time we have lost a butcher's, a baker's and a freezer centre. This has left us with an Indian takeaway, ladies' hairdressers and, of course, the post office in Bridge End Stores.

I hope these concerns and objections are duly noted and help to reverse the unfounded decision to close Earith Post Office.

MARIAN BRAMLEY

DARFORD

EARITH

Dear Sir,

Great Gidding Post Office must not close. It will be the only post office on the B660 between Kimbolton and Ramsey to look after the needs of people from no fewer than 12 villages.

Within the next few years, Gidding will be expanding. There will be a new school up and running by 2010 with pupils attending from seven villages - and there could be more.

Housing development plans have already been seen by the parish council for up to 14 new dwellings, and more are expected.

Expansion in rural areas is increasing, people are moving from town to local villages. Building developers know this and are now snapping up small areas of land within the village and surrounding areas. Great Gidding is expanding now faster than at any other time in history.

The villagers and people from the surrounding area are desperate to keep the post office and in future the need will be even greater.

Should the post office close, common sense has undoubtedly failed.

ROBIN HAYDEN MBE

GREAT GIDDING

Dear Sir,

The people living in Catworth and the six surrounding villages of Keyston, Bythorn, Molesworth, Brington, Old Weston and Leighton Bromswold are against the closure of Catworth Post Office.

Sustainability is what every community is encouraged to achieve but we cannot be sustainable if businesses have to drive to the next village or town to post their letters, outsize mail, "special services" mail and parcels.

The growing elderly and vulnerable members of the community will find great difficulty accessing their banking, collecting their pensions, posting parcels and buying stamps.

The PO is partnered with the village shop and is a focal point for school children and

a local focus for community information and sales of tickets for well-attended village

functions. It is the hub of the village.

We need this facility for our community to keep it sustainable and avoid the waste of petrol that will ensue from using our cars to travel for our postal needs.

JOAN MEIKLEJOHN

CHAIRMAN, CATWORTH PARISH COUNCIL

Dear Sir,

As a partner of a graphic design business based in Great Gidding, I speak for our business when I say we have very strong objections to the proposed closure of our post office.

We regularly use the PO to send urgent mail for next day delivery which is ready for posting between 3 and 4pm. The proposed timing of visits by the Outreach van will be of no use to us as a business.

This will mean a car journey to the PO in Sawtry most days - a place we try to avoid because of lack of parking and general congestion in that vicinity.

We have moved our business to our home and we are very conscious of our carbon footprint. We are trying to follow Government guidelines and we endeavour to operate as a caring business. To make us use our car for unnecessary journeys is wasteful and backpedalling, and we are extremely perturbed that this closure is even being considered.

KRYSTYNA WOJCIK

CATALYST DESIGN PARTNERSHIP

GREAT GIDDING

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