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Post office closure blow for OAPs

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:49 16 September 2010

Victoria Nicholls

Pensioners in one of south Norfolk's most rural villages have called for their post office to re-open, after it closed suddenly.

Customers in Thurlton, near Loddon, found a closed sign at the village post office last week, which has left them to ponder its long-term fate.

Pensioners in one of south Norfolk's most rural villages have called for their post office to re-open, after it closed suddenly.

Customers in Thurlton, near Loddon, found a closed sign at the village post office last week, which has left them to ponder its long-term fate.

The previous postmistress emigrated, and customers have been told that the branch will not re-open until around October after her replacement has been trained.

Daphne Garwood, 78, said she had been a customer for 57 years, since she married and moved to the village.

“My husband is in his 80s and he comes down here to get his pension,” she said. “It's his only pleasure. It will be a disaster in my view if it goes.

“This is the worry - the fact that there are a lot of elderly people that live in the village who can not get out on the bus. A lot of people don't see anybody else unless they come here.”

Fellow resident Betty Maxwell-Smith, who has visited the post office once a week for 20 years, said she had faced the prospect of running out of cash, because her relatives had been on holiday when the branch closed and she had been unable to get to another town.

“I was getting desperate at the end of the three weeks,” she said. “I only had £3 left.”

Customers are also fearful of the knock-on impact on the village's other amenities - the premises also houses the village shop, a beauty and a hairdressing salon and a wood and art shop. The lottery machines have been taken away, and villagers fear the temporary closure could end up being permanent.

A Post Office spokesman said: “Thurlton Post Office closed on a temporary basis on Wednesday 4, August 2010 following an audit. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused and would like to assure them that we are doing all we can to reopen the branch as soon as possible.”

Resident Alan Williams said the worst aspects were the “impracticalities” faced by villagers. He said he is now unable to do the banking for three charities for which he is treasurer, as he had just changed their bank accounts over to the post office.

Mr Williams said that getting to the Reedham branch would require going by ferry, and that Loddon and Beccles were four and six miles away respectively.

He added: “It's only been a year or two since they were shutting lots of post offices. I think it's a way of closing it through the back door.”

To add to the problem, he said he believed that a change of bus timetable meant the Beccles route, operated by Anglian Bus service and subsidised by Norfolk County Council, would no longer be operated from September, which would further inconvenience those without cars. He said that after commuting to work by bus for eight years, he was now facing having to buy a car, adding: “I can understand they've got to make cuts, but there's been no consultation about it.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “The service (Anglian 577) is not being stopped, but people heading for Beccles will have to change at Loddon or Haddiscoe. For many people the service will be better and more direct.”


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