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Post Office protest takes to streets

PUBLISHED: 19:09 01 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:00 03 July 2010

DESPERATE PLEA: Neil Parker leads the march against the closure of Lichfield Road Post Office

DESPERATE PLEA: Neil Parker leads the march against the closure of Lichfield Road Post Office

Laura Bagshaw

RESIDENTS from Southtown and Cobholm took to the streets yesterday to protest against the closure of their “lifeline” post office.

More than 50 people marched with placards from Lichfield Road Post Office to the main branch at WHSmith in Great Yarmouth's town centre to protest against the proposed cull of post offices.

RESIDENTS from Southtown and Cobholm took to the streets yesterday to protest against the closure of their “lifeline” post office.

More than 50 people marched with placards from Lichfield Road Post Office to the main branch at WHSmith in Great Yarmouth's town centre to protest against the proposed cull of post offices.

Leading the march in his mobility scooter was Neil Parker, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

“If the post office goes it will tear the heart out of the community,” he said. “I rely on it. I don't use the main branch because the queues are ridiculous and you try and negotiate a scooter round that shop, its impossible.”

The march, organised by sub-postmaster Shah Haque and chairman of Lichfield Community Association Jim West, aimed to demonstrate how the main town branch couldn't cope with an influx of more than 1,000 extra customers, if the profit-making Lichfield Road branch was to close.

As protesters young and old marched along Southtown Road and over Haven Bridge their cause attracted support from dozens of motorists who honked horns and hurled cries of support as they drove passed.

Some of the elderly protestors struggled to keep pace with the march, which had to stop a couple of times to allow them to catch up.

Mr Haque said: “This is a desperate bid from the community to show we want our post office to stay.

“I know a lot of people who have taken time of work to be here today which shows just how strong the feeling is in the community. Someone has to listen to our cry because I firmly believe this closure programme has not been well thought out.

“The people making these decisions did not have the local knowledge when they pin pointed this post office, they didn't event know there was a river separating the area from the town centre. This post office is a lifeline for people, not just to carry out their business but it's also a meeting place.”

Shona Barringer, of Anson Road, helped make the protest placards.

And, recalling a recent public meeting in Southtown she said several people who attended had oxygen bottles and walking sticks.

She said: “We can't expect these people to walk a mile into town to post a letter. If this post office goes, my commitment to them is over. If this branch goes it's the beginning of the end for shops in Southtown. It upsets and annoys me to think it could close, this is unacceptable.”

Protesters Brian and Dorothy Winchester rely heavily on Lichfield Road Post Office. Dorothy is blind and deaf but knows the route well to the branch from her Cobholm home.

Mr Winchester said: “We don't want this to close - it's just another nail in the coffin for this area. It's too difficult for my wife to get into town and it's often too crowded for her.”

Kim Pickering, of Stafford Road, said: “I think it's disgusting what they are trying to do. There will be nothing left in Southtown if this post office goes. Years ago there was a hairdressers and grocers here but they have long gone. It's a big area with a lot of elderly people and mums who don't need the hassle of going into the town.”

Protester Sally Mills dubbed the proposed closure as a potential “tragedy” adding the branch was at the centre of the community.

Samantha Farrant, of Lichfield Road, uses the post office almost everyday.

She said: “My son knows all the names of the people who work there. It is the heart of the community.”

Jim West said he was pleased with the turn out and hoped the march would make the Post Office consultation team sit up and listen to the people. He said: “We are in the process of writing to the consultation team to ask for a representative to visit the area so they can see for themselves the difficulty elderly and disabled people face getting into town.


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