Post office is heart of our community

A WORRIED councillor fears the heart of a village community could be lost if its post office is axed.

Station Road Post Office, in East Boldon, has been earmarked for closure under proposals announced by Royal Mail on Tuesday.

It is one of almost 60 post offices set to shut in the region, including three other outlets in South Tyneside – Victoria Road West, in Hartleyburn Avenue, Hebburn; Harton Village, in Sunderland Road, and Westoe Road, both in South Shields.

A six-week consultation process has now been launched over the closure plans.

The Government claim the moves are necessary because of a rapid decline in Post Office use in recent times.

But today Coun Donald Wood, the Conservative representative for Cleadon and East Boldon, expressed his fears over the move.

He said: "The post office is at the heart of the community.

"It is a lifeline to the community, particularly for the elderly. This closure would leave them terribly isolated.

"This Government has closed 3,000 post offices since it came to power in 1997.

"They have helped create the situation by encouraging pensioners to pay their pensions into banks and stopping the payment of telephone bills at post offices.

"Lots of services have been removed."

Meanwhile, the Countryside Alliance is recommending that residents not only continue to use and support their branch, but make their views known to the Prime Minister and the National Consultation Team.

The Countryside Alliance will be sending each earmarked branch a pack outlining how best to campaign and fight closure.

Countryside Alliance North East regional director, Richard Dodd, said: "This is sad news and will come as a shock, but the fight doesn't end here.

"Financial viability cannot be the only concern when considering whether to continue subsidising the post office network.

"Without them many thousands of people, including many elderly and disabled, would be increasingly isolated.

"We're urging the Government to recognise the huge social benefit post offices provide."