Still time to save post offices

Miles Jermy THE clock has started ticking, but there is still time to save threatened Post Offices.The Mercury is backing the bid to reprieve the branches faced with closure in the Great Yarmouth area.

Miles Jermy

THE clock has started ticking, but there is still time to save threatened Post Offices.

The Mercury is backing the bid to reprieve the branches faced with closure in the Great Yarmouth area. Hundreds of customers have already rallied to the cause and now there is a chance to support the Mercury's Save Our Post Office campaign.

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

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They continue in many cases to provide a vital service to the community both in urban and rural areas in and beyond the borough.

Lengthy queues are already a common sight at main post office in Yarmouth town centre and waiting times are set to increase further if nearby branches in Lichfield Road and Northgate Street close.

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This week the mercury has been monitoring queues at the post office in WH Smith - and it hasn't been a good sight.

Frustrated customers are facing lengthy waits to get served. During our monitoring on Monday and Tuesday we recorded the following numbers - Monday: 10.45am 23; 1.45pm 29; 3.15pm 20; 4.45pm 25; Tuesday: 10.45am 9; 1.45pm 24; 3.15pm 22; 4.45pm 24.

A campaign to save Northgate Street Post Office is in full swing after it was revealed to be on the closure list.

In just the last fortnight, more than 800 loyal customers have signed a petition in support of the branch, which is one of busiest in Great Yarmouth. It is an all or nothing fight with little chance of saving the shop if the post office that accounts for 90pc of business is closed.

The street, close to Yarmouth town centre, contains a wide variety of independently run shops and businesses, several of which have voiced support for the post office. If the closure goes ahead it will put added pressure on the nearby main post office in WH Smith, which already has lengthy queues at peak periods.

Sub postmistress Jayne Nicholson said: “We have 1,500 customers a week which is twice as many as a nearby Post Office that will be staying open.

“This is a profitable business and I can only think that the branches selected for closure have been picked out of a hat. I don't know whether we stand a chance of reversing the decision, but we will give it our best shot. One Post Office official told to me to fight the cause and said there was a good chance I could reverse the decision, but others have said getting a petition is a waste of time.

“Hopefully there will be a genuine consultation and the Post Office still has an open mind.”

There was a mood of resignation at Beresford Road Post Office with staff and customers accepting that little could be done to keep the branch open. Now the counter space is likely to close for the final time in August following the publication of last week's hit list.

Postmistress Barbara Ebanks said: “I am resigned to closing, there is a post office at Salisbury Road about a ten minute walk away.

“The customers are upset but realise there is not enough money to go around to keep every branch open.”

Mrs Ebanks employs two staff at the post office she has been running for the last seven years.

Another branch earmarked for closure is in Springfield Road, Gorleston and is part of a Lewis Day chemist. However, it is understood no campaign has been organised to save the branch.

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