Hands off our post office
WILBURTON villagers are threatening to picket outside their post office if the Government decides to close it. Angry residents are rallying behind the postmaster and his family as its future hangs in the balance along with the post offices at neighbouring
WILBURTON villagers are threatening to picket outside their post office if the Government decides to close it.
Angry residents are rallying behind the postmaster and his family as its future hangs in the balance along with the post offices at neighbouring Haddenham, Stretham and Witchford.
They are expected to hear within the next 18 months which ones will close as part of a Government drive to axe 2,500 post offices nationwide.
Villagers fear the move to encourage customers to access postal services on line and have pensions and other benefits paid directly into bank accounts will severely hit the disabled, elderly and those without transport.
Elderly residents from Wilburton's Bakery Close sheltered house scheme rely on the village's post office and general stores for their daily shopping and to cash their pensions.
Wilburton postmistress Greta Panda, who has run the business with her family for the last seven years, said: "We have tried to make the shop the hub of village life. We sell theatre tickets for productions in the village and have supported the church appeal. It will be a shame if we lose it.
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"But if the Government chooses to close the post office we will have to let the shop go. I can't see it surviving without the post office.
"People come in asking me every day what is going to happen. I tell them no news is good news.
"They are so supportive. They have offered to picket outside to make sure it will stay.
Steve Edwards, Haddenham postmaster and secretary of the Cambridgeshire Federation of Subpostmasters, said: "If anyone of the four post offices closes the village would lose all its postal services completely.
"I do agree that the closure of 2,500 post offices would strengthen those remaining. But it's a case of Nimbysm - not in my back yard. We don't want ours to close."
Cllr Bill Hunt, who represents Haddenham on the county council and Stratham and Wilburton on the district council, has taken up the fight to save the villages' post offices.
He said: "If these post offices close it will tear the heart out of these villages.
"The Government wants people to tax their cars on line and have their pensions paid by direct debit. But what about the community services that the post offices supply?
"People have to get behind this campaign. It's no good people crying in their tea after it has happened.
"There are about 100,000 people affected by this. If they all spent an extra £50 a year in their local shop that is an extra £500,000 which would give around an extra £30,000 a year profit to each of these businesses, making them viable.
"We all know that the post office is a very important hub in the fabric of a village along with the churches, chapels, garages, pubs and schools. Take away any of these 'social bricks' and the village cohesion is seriously damaged.
These four post offices are also important to the smaller villages such as Little Hertford, Wentworth and Aldrich. We have to use them or lose them.