Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

STAMPED OUT; Officials Confirmed Yesterday That 80 Post Offices Will Be Axed across the North East. ALASTAIR CRAIG Talks to Communities Hit by the Devastating Blow

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

STAMPED OUT; Officials Confirmed Yesterday That 80 Post Offices Will Be Axed across the North East. ALASTAIR CRAIG Talks to Communities Hit by the Devastating Blow

Article excerpt

Byline: ALASTAIR CRAIG

IT WAS the announcement that scores of communities had been dreading.

Post Office Ltd confirmed yesterday that all but one branch on its North East closure hit list would shut its doors for good.

Despite campaigns and a public outcry during a consultation period, only the Blackhall Mill office has survived the sweeping cuts, which will see 80 branches axed.

Branches in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham will have as little as six weeks to wind up operations to meet the expected October closure deadline.

Jon Aydon launched a petition to save his local Walbottle branch, claiming the tiny village's elderly would be left isolated.

Just hours after reading in the Chronicle in July that his local service could close, the 20-year-old had secured more than 250 names from residents in the village, near Newcastle.

A disappointed Jon said today: "We're upset and we all feel like we've been ignored.

"You can't help feeling that the closures were a done deal and no matter what we said or did, nothing would be changed.

"But we would never forgive ourselves if we hadn't at least tried.

"This is a bitter blow to the many elderly people in the village. They will struggle to cope the most."

A total of 24 branches in rural areas of Northumberland and Durham are being replaced by a mobile van, while 56 in urban areas are to close.

Another branch, in St Anthony's, Walker, Newcastle, previously thought to be safe, is now earmarked for closure and a six-week consultation will start this week.

Fiona Beare fought to save Garden Village Post Office in Gosforth and amassed 1,000 names on a petition.

Users staged a protest outside the branch in support of sub-postmaster Gary Maughan and his wife Lynne - but their efforts have failed.

She said: "I am extremely disappointed and immensely saddened that despite all of our best efforts, Post Office Ltd has completely failed to listen, understand and appreciate exactly the effect the loss of this post office will have on this area.

"It is clear this so-called six week public consultation period has been a total sham on the part of Post Office Ltd and by its actions, at the stroke of a pen, it has completely ripped out the heart of this community. …

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