Fears branch will be 'overwhelmed'

Miles Jermy THE manager of a Great Yarmouth Post Office admitted he expects to be “overwhelmed” with customers if nearby branches close.North Denes Post Office escaped the proposed cull of counter spaces announced last month by Royal Mail.

Miles Jermy

THE manager of a Great Yarmouth Post Office admitted he expects to be “overwhelmed” with customers if nearby branches close.

North Denes Post Office escaped the proposed cull of counter spaces announced last month by Royal Mail.

But both Beresford Road and Northgate Street branches were revealed to be on the hit list which has aroused fierce opposition in the town.

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The two branches are less than a mile from North Denes Post Office based in McColls newsagent on Salisbury Road.

Manager Terry Clarke told the Mercury he was unsure about the long term future of his branch if the latest round of cuts to the network goes ahead.

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“At the moment unless we get extra staff it will be difficult to cope, I think if both Northgate Street and Beresford Road closed we would be overwhelmed,” he said. “We are going to have to put in a plan of action, I would probably have to employ someone else and possibly extend our opening hours.

“At the moment I am not too concerned about our future, but who knows what is around the corner.”

A further six branches are due to close in and beyond the borough at Lichfield Road, Yarmouth; Springfield Road in Gorleston; Hickling; Stokesby; West Somerton and Upton.

Political divisions were put aside this week as the borough's county councillors added their voices to the campaign to keep the threatened branches open.

The council's rural development officer Jason Middleton told a meeting of the Great Yarmouth Area Committee that post offices should not shut if it put too much pressure on nearby branches.

He said: “The guidelines are clear that the ability of the remaining branches to accept customers has to be taken into account.

“If a branch is located in what is the only shop in village and the closure puts the retail business in jeopardy then the Post Office should not consider closing it.

“We know if we lose a post office then other shops and businesses suffer and need to assess what impact it would have on the local community.”

Norfolk County Council chairman Michael Carttiss expressed concern that the post office had already decided not to keep the threatened branches open.

He said: “The government cannot subsidise the network because EU rules prevent it, but that does not explain why services are being taken away from the Post Office.

“I sometimes pop into the branch on Northgate Street which provides a first class service and I cannot understand the reasons behind its closure because so many people use it.

“Moving the main post office to WH Smith has been disastrous it is an appalling arrangement.”

More than a 1,000 people have signed a petition to save Northgate Street and 120 Southtown and Cobhom residents attended a meeting last week to demand that the Lichfield Road branch is kept open.

Ward Councillor John Holmes described the WH Smith provision as an “absolute nightmare” as people clogged up the store queuing to use the post office.

Yarmouth MP Tony Wright has added his support to the campaign to save West Somerton Post Office. Mr Wright attended a meeting in the village last week with post mistress Deborah Ashton, parish councillors and residents.

Many of the branch's customers are pensioners who would have to make a bus journey to the nearest branches at Martham or Winterton. It would mean a difficult walk to the bus stop along roads without pavements or footpaths or having to find parking for those with mobility problems.

Protestors were urged to write letters opposing the post office closures as every correspondence, even if it was a petition with hundreds of signatures, was treated as a single objection.

Write to Laura Tarling, Network Development Manager c/o National Consultation Team, FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM, email consultation@postoffice.co.uk or call 08457 223344.

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