Damning dossier on PO closure proposals

A damning dossier on the plans to close 53 Norfolk post offices has been compiled by Norfolk County Council - which believes all but one of the proposals are wrong.

A damning dossier on the plans to close 53 Norfolk post offices has been compiled by Norfolk County Council - which believes all but one of the proposals are wrong.

The document, which shows that more than a third of a million people will be affected, was sent to Laura Tarling, Post Office Ltd's network development manager for Norfolk and West Suffolk and to Postwatch ahead of Monday's consultation deadline.

A final decision is expected within three weeks.

County Hall's 200-page dossier, thought to be the only one of its kind in the country, has gone through the Post Office case with a fine-tooth comb looking closely at its impact on the vulnerable, on businesses and on claims that people can easily reach alternative branches - and in the vast swathe of cases found the case seriously wanting.


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The report found that the plans would leave 333,629 of the county's 800,000 residents facing a bus trip of more than 15 minutes to get their nearest post office. And there will 10,261 people left without access to any post office including 321 households which do not have a car.

And it raised a whole host of concerns about the accuracy of post office data on public transport, the availability of parking at branches, and the profitability of stores.

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A product of close working between County Hall, the seven district councils, and Norfolk Rural Community Councils, it also maps how many of the post offices earmarked for closure are in some of the most deprived areas - which means their loss will have an even greater effect on the community and businesses.

Of the 53, it strongly opposes the closure of 32 branches, opposes the closure of 18, supports plans to provide two new services and is not opposing one other - Little Plumstead, near Norwich, which has in any case already been closed for a year.

Daniel Cox, Leader of Norfolk Country Council, said: “I have voiced very real concern about the way in which the Post Office has driven this process forward, with seemingly very little regard to the real impact these closures will have, particularly in our rural areas,” he said. “We have through a lot of hard work amassed a large body of hard evidence about the very real impact these closures will have on Norfolk people and I trust the Post Office will think long and hard about what we have said as well as listening to the voices of local people before moving ahead.

“While accept we may not be able to save every proposed branch from closure, I would appeal to the Post Office to seriously consider the evidence we have carefully assembled before it's too late.”

This is what the Norfolk County Council dossier has to say about local post offices under threat.

Barney

The Barney branch is located in a house in the centre of the village of Barney in north Norfolk.

The branch is temporarily closed and as such the local community does not have access to post office services locally.

Beeston

The loss of the post office in Beeston will also lead to the loss of the village's sole village store and have a significant impact on the local community and goes against government policy. Travel to the alternative branches would be very difficult, because of a lack of public transport, very dangerous local roads due to the gravel lorries and a road that floods.

Clint Green, Yaxham

Located in a bric-a-brac shop next to the local primary school, the branch has limited opening hours and very little community support. However, its loss will have a significant impact on the most vulnerable in the community.

Great Walsingham

The branch is located in a craft centre on the edge of the village. Although the branch has a low number of customer sessions, due to the isolated location of the community, there are a number of customers who are reliant on the services provided.

There is no public transport to either of the alternative branches, which will isolate vulnerable individuals.

Holkham

The loss of the Holkham branch will have a limited impact in terms of the local community as the majority of customers are tourists.

Both the two alternative branches are accessible via public transport and also have parking close by, although the Burnham Market branch will be difficult to access during the summer due to the high number of tourists.

While this authority opposes the closure of this branch, it understands the need for the post office to modernise the network.

Longham

Very busy small branch that sells a range of cards. The business will be lost if the post office closes, which will have a considerable impact on this deprived rural community. Although the number of customer sessions is low, it does not reflect the value of the branch to local people as a significant number of people are housebound and the post master provides a door to door service to those who need it.

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North Tuddenham

The loss of this branch will have a significant impact on the local community, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Mattishall branch is located with a newsagents, is not accessible via public transport and has some limited roadside parking. Hockering branch does not provide an alternative as it is not accessible via public transport and requires crossing the A47 trunk road at a very dangerous position.

Tittleshall

The service at Tittleshall is provided two mornings a week in the village hall as a main branch. The branch provides a key service to the local community which has very few other services.

Wells Road, Fakenham

The Wells Road branch is a very busy general store on the edge of Fakenham town centre. The loss of the branch will have a significant impact on the shop. A large number of customers come in to use both the shop and the post office.

Therefore, the loss of the branch could result in the loss of the shop. The high level of post office usage makes it difficult to understand why the branch is proposed for closure.

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