One saved...but six to close

THERE was delight at Great Gransden post office, where the only successful campaign to save a branch in the whole of Cambridgeshire was fought. Postmaster Balbir Basra said: We are ecstatic. We have many elderly customers in their 80s and 90s, the bus se

THERE was delight at Great Gransden post office, where the only successful campaign to save a branch in the whole of Cambridgeshire was fought.

Postmaster Balbir Basra said: "We are ecstatic. We have many elderly customers in their 80s and 90s, the bus service is very poor and the nearest branch in Gamlingay is difficult to get to.

"People were surprised we managed to save the branch but it was thanks to the hard work of the parish council and residents."

Cllr George Graze, chairman of Great Gransden Parish Council, said: "This was the result of a lot of hard work by a large team. We are delighted."


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However, axing six Huntingdonshire post offices will wipe out hundreds of years of history, say postmasters.

Last week Post Office Ltd announced that despite vigorous opposition, branches at Catworth, Earith, Great Gidding, Great Stukeley, Holme and Ramsey St Mary's are to close.

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Villagers in the affected areas will either see a reduction in post office services or severely reduced hours via a mobile van.

Shailesh Vara, MP for North-West Cambridgeshire, said: "The closures have come despite hard-fought campaigns by residents. Their objections clearly showed this to be the wrong decision which will further erode the quality of life in our communities."

Mr Vara, who represents four of the district's axed branches, also criticised Post Office Ltd's cost-cutting, adding: "Local people will suffer from this dash for cash."

Meanwhile, none of the affected branches had been given a date for closure when contacted by The Hunts Post yesterday.

In Earith, where Somersham is the nearest branch, postmaster Andy Ballard said more than 100 years of history could be at an end. He said: There has been a post office here for at least 100 years and I am a bit embarrassed that we could lose it on my watch."

The original proposal to move services into the Riverview Hotel is being reconsidered, meaning some services may remain in Bridge End Stores as part of a partnership deal.

Meanwhile, Great Gidding, where a mobile van will serve the village, postmaster Jed Patel is frustrated his branch is to be axed. He said: "We opened our shop 11 years ago and when we arrived in the village the post office had already been closed - we got Post Office Ltd to reopen it and now it has been taken away again."

Alec Snitch, who has run the Great Stukeley branch from his own home for 16 years said he had heard nothing from Post Office Ltd on a closure date, as is the case at Holme, where a van will offer a few hours service when the branch closes.

Deena Howard, from the Ramsey St Mary's branch, said she was upset not to have answers for her loyal customers' questions.

She said: "I haven't been given a date when I'll hear anything. I've just been told it won't be before October 14.

"It's frustrating because you can't plan or move forward. In my mind I've accepted that we're going to close but I can't make any plans, I'm just hanging in limbo."

Some services will remain at Ramsey St Mary's in a partnership deal with the shop.

In Catworth, the chairman of the Parish Council told The Hunts Post that she feels "aggrieved" by the decision to close their branch.

Cllr Joan Meiklejohn said: "The reasons for keeping Great Gransden's branch open are the exact reasons that should apply to Catworth and I feel quite aggrieved that we have been closed. We haven't been given a date for the closure because the mobile van is not yet operational."

INFORMATION: What do you think of Post Office Ltd's decision to close six Huntingdonshire post offices? E-mail your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to Post Offices, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE29 3TB.

- CONTROVERSY surrounds the proposed positioning of the mobile post office service at Great Gidding.

Villagers are angry that Post Office Ltd plans to position the van at the entrance to a playground field opposite the village school at lunchtimes, and have branded the plan 'dangerous'.

Dr Julie Byard, chairman of the Post Office Action Group, said: "This is a crazy and dangerous proposal that will endanger pedestrians coming to the recreation ground, many of whom are children.

"Post Office Ltd has already tried and failed to find a safe and suitable location within the village [at the village hall], and this is their last resort."

Dr Byard said the group would be writing to Post Office Ltd with their objections and had not yet given up hope of saving the branch altogether.

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