Lobby over post office threat - MP

The government should extend the six-week consultation on the future of post offices, a Norfolk MP said last night.Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, condemned the government's approach to post office closures and urged campaigners to lobby parliament directly.

The government should extend the six-week consultation on the future of post offices, a Norfolk MP said last night.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, condemned the government's approach to post office closures and urged campaigners to lobby parliament directly.

It is feared the controversial plans to axe local branches as part of swingeing cutbacks to the national post office network, will have a devastating effect on rural communities already struggling to combat hidden poverty and deprivation.

And Mr Bacon criticised the time allocated for the consultation - saying it was not enough to even develop potential alternatives to closure - as he launched South Norfolk Council's campaign to support post offices.


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“I hope you will descend on parliament in large numbers, because you can rest assured, MPs are right behind you,” he told postmasters, post mistresses and others who attended the campaign event.

“A post office in a rural area like ours is different in degree and kind from one in an urban area where there are alternatives like drop-in centres and cafes. These don't exist in the same way in rural areas.

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“At the very time when we are concerned about community cohesion and social breakdown, and the glue that holds our society together, I wish the government would listen harder.”

He added: “Why only six weeks for consultation to come up with innovative alternatives? We will be pressing the government to extend the consultation period.”

Councillor Michael Windridge, cabinet member for tourism, heritage, enterprise and culture, revealed the authority would be having a “crunch meeting” with Post Office Ltd on March 10.

“We will use the opportunity to tell them in no uncertain terms just what a critical role post offices play in sustaining the life of rural communities and in looking after the more vulnerable members of our society. What is also of great concern is the domino effect closures are going to have on the viability of local shops in which the post office plays an integral part.”

Sub-postmasters and mistresses who attended Friday's launch, returned to their businesses armed with posters and campaign materials to spread the word.

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