Text Only Version Last Update: Press Releases (22 May 2006)
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Post office victory
Bury Free Press, 12 March 2004
MORETON Hall estate, in Bury St Edmunds, is set to get a new post office thanks to people power.
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Town MP David Ruffley met Tesco bosses on Wednesday and they pledged to fund a post office somewhere on the estate.
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The firm initially insisted on going ahead with closure despite concerns of local people.
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Although the post office in the One Stop shop will still be axed in favour of a bakery, Tesco has said it will pay to fully kit out a new post office, possibly in the Moreton Hall Community Centre if it is viable.
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Tesco, which has bought 800 One Stop shops and Dillons stores, wants to close the post office and install a bakery even though residents of Moreton Hall have raised strong objections.
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Mr Ruffley spent around two hours with Ian Crick, the senior retail strategist at Tesco's HQ, demanding that Tesco help to keep a post office on the estate.
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It was just last month that David North, government affairs director for Tesco, attended a public meeting to answer residents' questions about Tesco's plans.
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Mr North was met with more than 100 angry residents, all furious at the news they were going to lose their post office.
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The meeting, called and chaired by Mr Ruffley, gave residents the chance to put their questions to the senior Tesco boss.
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Mr Ruffley said: "They made me a promise that they would foot the bill and fund in full a relocation of the post office anywhere in the Moreton Hall area.
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"Tesco did not consult with the residents (of their plans) in the first place, nor did they notify the council or local MP. They made the decision on their own.
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"I demanded they came to the public meeting to see just how high the feelings of residents were. Tesco do not usually attend public meetings, because they don't want to open themselves up to any criticism. I can tell you that Mr North was very taken aback with the strength of support."
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Mr Ruffley said it was only towards the end of the meeting on Wednesday that he managed to get Tesco to pledge their support to maintaining a post office.
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"I told them that I would not give up," said Mr Ruffley.
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"I said I would continue to keep knocking on their door and calling them to keep the pressure on until they saw sense.
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"Tesco have seen the pressure put upon them by myself, local politicians and residents no stone has been left unturned. I think the public meeting was the key, by the strength of support that was shown. This is a victory for people power."
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Mr Ruffley said he told bosses of the supermarket giant that when St Edmundsbury Borough Council surveyed the residents of the estate in 1996, more than 95 per cent said they wanted a post office.
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"My preferred solution would be for the post office to stay in the shop," said Mr Ruffley. "But while the decision to remove the post office from the shop is set in stone, Tesco will cough up if the move is viable so that is a result."
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Mr North told the Bury Free Press: "I think we are optimistic at the moment, but it's not yet a done deal.
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"We will be waiving the goodwill charge to the outgoing subpost-master and I can confirm we would be happy to pay the costs, within reason, to relocate the post office to the community centre if it is viable.
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"We are awaiting confirmation from the post office to find out if it is a runner.
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"The residents are very lucky to have such an active and constructive MP who supports them in such issues."
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