May 24 2013 Latest news:
By RICHARD WOOD
Friday, June 22, 2012
HUNDREDS of people in Beccles have shown their support for a post office counter service that is potentially facing closure.
Separately organised petitions and a Facebook group have collected hundreds of supporters in the hope that they can convince the East of England Co-op Society to keep the service at the store, which is on the corner of Swines Green and Rigbourne Hill.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous has also written a letter to the society’s executive officer expressing his concern at the potential closure and is due to meet representatives of the society today, after it was confirmed last month that a consultation was being held into the service.
Mr Aldous said: “Post offices and post offices counters are often central to local communities, providing critical services to people, many of whom are unable, or find it very difficult, to travel to the nearest alternative.
“Over the last 10 years many hundreds have closed across the country and the current government has done all it can to stop this.”
In his letter he highlighted concerns that it would be particularly difficult for elderly customers to travel to the other post office services in the town centre or in Worlingham, and feared that the store would also lose customers.
A Facebook group entitled “Save Rigbourne Hill Post office” has been created by deputy town mayor Caroline Topping and has 643 members supporting it, while an associated online petition has 46 signatures.
Town councillors have also been in discussions with senior management at the East of England Co-operative Society.
Yesterday, former Waveney MP Bob Blizzard separately delivered 550 signatures of support to the society management after campaigning in the town centre and posting leaflets.
He said: “550 in just two weeks is a tremendous response, which shows how much people value it. For some it is just essential.”
Mr Blizzard said it was vital to keep a service for the largest residential area in the town, and added that if it closed there would be an impact on the rest of the town with the result being longer queues at the counter service in WH Smith.
Mark O’Hagan, executive officer for people and performance for the East of England Co-operative Society, said: “We understand the sensitivities around services such as post offices in communities like Rigbourne Hill.
“Wherever possible we want to protect and grow jobs and services, but we have to respond to the business impact of the long term decline in the use of the post office at Rigbourne Hill, Swines Green.”
As previously reported, the East of England Co-operative Society is holding a consultation into the service, however no timeframe has been given for it.
Last month, Roger Grosvenor, executive officer for retail, said it was part of good business practice to regularly review all stores and services.
The post office service was officially opened in February 2000 by minister Alan Johnson and Mr Blizzard.