LITTLE DOWNHAM POST OFFICE TO GO

PUBLISHED: 13:44 16 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 May 2010

Outside the post office

Outside the post office

EXCLUSIVE by Catherine Atkinson LITTLE Downham Post Office is to close -depriving the village of yet another public service. Devastated post mistress Harpal Atwal called the consultation process a farce. I m obviously very disappointed, she said. I

EXCLUSIVE by Catherine Atkinson

LITTLE Downham Post Office is to close -depriving the village of yet another public service.

Devastated post mistress Harpal Atwal called the consultation process "a farce."

"I'm obviously very disappointed," she said. "It now leaves the shop in danger and we are the only shop in the village except the butcher and the hairdressers. The most important thing is that people use our shop and don't drive into Ely - it leaves the village with nothing - and we are already one of the most deprived areas for services in the country."

Mrs Atwal said there was no reason to think that a mobile service - which is likely to replace the post office by November - would be well-used. "It will be parked on a corner by the village hall which is dangerous for people that are queuing. Do you think pensioners, who sometimes have to lean on the counter they are so weak, and young mums with their prams and people with heavy parcels are going to queue there? The contract for the mobile service is only ten weeks long so if people aren't using it they will axe that as well."

As far as her own livelihood is concerned, Mrs Atwal will continue to run the shop, and will be compensated, but she called it a "drop in the ocean."

"It wouldn't pay for you to move house, build a new life or learn new skills," she said. "I have been doing this for 14 years."

Also likely to be axed is Little Downham's Thursday bus service, which will also leave residents of nearby Wardy Hill and Pymoor without public transport to get to Ely post office. Little Downham Post Office is used by residents in smaller villages like Pymoor, Oxlode and even Hale Fen, who have no easy access to shops and services in their remote Fen homes, no public transport, and will now be forced to use the crowded Ely High Street branch and drive into the city, causing extra congestion.

It remains to be seen what happens to St John's Road in Ely - officer in charge Traceyanne Devine said she had not heard from her employer and was desperate to find out her future after an anxious three month wait. "I will probably find out from the paper first, like last time - I only knew we were up for closure then. No one bothered to phone me."

"We will be offered compensation, but does that compensate for standing here every day being asked by people 'are you going,' 'are you going?'", added Mrs Devine. "I'm fed up to the back teeth of it. And if we are going I want a definite date for when we are going to close - they have been keeping us on a string for long enough."

Mrs Atwal thanked her MP Malcolm Moss, councillors and residents for their support - especially those who protested outside Ely Post Office. "It just goes to show the government don't listen to reason," she added.

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