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Battle Begins

PUBLISHED: 18:25 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:44 03 July 2010

DUE TO BE CUT: Upton post office

DUE TO BE CUT: Upton post office

Miles Jermy

THE threat of large cuts was delivered to Post Office branches throughout the Great Yarmouth area this week.

Royal Mail's announcement is likely to result in eight branch closures in and beyond the borough by the summer.

DUE TO BE CUT: Northgate Street post office

THE threat of large cuts was delivered to Post Office branches throughout the Great Yarmouth area this week.

Royal Mail's announcement is likely to result in eight branch closures in and beyond the borough by the summer.

Both urban and small rural post offices are included in the controversial county wide closure programme.

The eight post offices earmarked for closure are Beresford Road, Lichfield Road, and Northgate Street in Yarmouth, Springfield Road in Gorleston, Hickling, Stokesby, Upton and West Somerton.

Communities now face a battle against the odds to save the branches faced with the axe.

Borough council leader Barry Coleman was among those grilling post office bosses at a meeting on Wednesday night.

He said: “I was surprised by the number of closures in the urban area but fearful that more rural post offices might have closed.

“People need to get together to fight this. It is no good me just writing in, it needs to be based on evidence from the communities affected.

“The fear is that if one post office is reprieved it will result in another being closed in the same area.

“It is important to make the existing post office network viable in the long term as it provides a vital service to the community in urban and rural areas.

“The present funding is only guaranteed until 2011 and if the underlying problems are not resolved we will be going through this again.”

Mr Coleman added that a meeting was planned with Norfolk County Council and district councils to discuss the closures and one of the issued likely to be raised was possible council funding to rescue some of the threatened branches.

While some postmasters were resigned to their fate others vowed to fight to save their business.

Several hundred customers had signed a petition to reprieve Northgate Street Post Office in the few hours on Wednesday after it was revealed it was set to close.

Nearby businesses also voiced opposition to the closure they claimed would hit trading in the street

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright pledged to meet postmasters and mistresses in the borough whose branches were threatened.

He said: “It does raise concerns and I am looking at each of the recommendations in detail. In Yarmouth it will put an awful lot of pressure on the main post office in the town centre.

“The post office in WH Smith in not on a bus route, it's at the back of the building and access is not ideal for people with disabilities. Figures show there is substantial footfall in some of the branches set to close, but it is difficult to get information from the Post Office.

“I hope there is a genuine consultation and the branches will not close regardless so there is a chance to put the arguments across.”

Royal Mail has set aside a six-week public consultation period before the closures are confirmed.

The hit list has been drawn up to tackle losses of more than £3m a week and four million fewer customer visits a week compared to two years ago.

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