Keep them open

Friday, 7 March, 2008

More than 9,000 people have signed a petition to save rural post offices threatened with closure.
Up to 2,500 branches across the country could be axed as part of Post Office Ltd's Network Change Programme- with fears people in rural communities could lose out as a result.

But customers across West Suffolk have been signing a petition set up by David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, to keep their services- with one branch collecting 2,000 signatures.

Jim Peek, sub-postmaster at Woolpit Post Office, who returned his petition to the MP on Friday, said he was 'cautiously optimistic' about the chances of his branch remaining open.

"People in the village are very supportive," he said. "We get asked all the time if we're going to be okay, but this is a busy post office and we tend to get people from other villages coming in.

"All post offices are vital, especially for older people who can't get into town very easily."

Mr Ruffley said he was due to present the petition to Post Offices Ltd this week. An announcement on which branches are earmarked for closure is expected this month ahead of a six-week consultation period, which starts on March 26.

"It's the biggest number of names I've had on a petition on any subject since I became an MP 10 years ago, but it doesn't surprise me," said Mr Ruffley.