Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rallying Call to Region; POST OFFICE CLOSURES

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rallying Call to Region; POST OFFICE CLOSURES

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul James, Brian Daniel and Ben Guy

ARALLYING call was issued yesterday in town halls across the North East for councils to help fill the void left by post office closures.

A motion put forward at a meeting last night in Alnwick for the authority to step in will be followed by others in Durham and Newcastle today after the full list of the region's 81 branches either being closed or downgraded was published.

Twenty-four rural branches in Northumberland and Durham are being replaced by timetabled visits from a mobile van, while a further 57 in urban areas across the region are to close.

Senior members of Northumberland County Council will also look at how they can bring post office services into council buildings at a meeting on Monday.

The moves come as local campaigns began across the region to save community post offices, and amid calls for solutions to be found to replace the "buzz" of a local branch.

Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "We are keen to work with partners in other councils to see what can be done, and to decide on next steps.

"We are anxious that we work with the communities affected, and to help them however we can."

George Hepburn, chief executive of the Community Foundation, said: "It is going to be so important to find new and imaginative ways to keep the buzz going in our local communities where the post offices are closing.

"We ought to look at whether there is a greater role for churches, community centres and social clubs to be the places where people meet and share their news as they did previously at the post office.

"We should think about having replacement 'postmasters' who can signpost villagers to public services and provide a listening ear."

Countryside Alliance regional director and Ponteland farmer Richard Dodd said post offices are the social heart of many communities and their removal would leave many people isolated. …

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