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Outrage at sudden closure of post office on Bury St Edmunds estate

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Residents gather outside St Olaves Precinct Post Office following news of its closure
Residents gather outside St Olaves Precinct Post Office following news of its closure

A post office which has been at the heart of a Bury St Edmunds community for about 50 years is to close today.

St Olaves Precinct Post Office on the Howard estate is to shut ‘temporarily’ after its premises were ‘withdrawn at short notice’.

The post office is the heart of the community
Ernie Broom

A spokesman for the Post Office said they are ‘working hard to restore Post Office services to St Olaves as quickly as possible’.

The sudden closure of a vital service - a lynchpin of the estate - has left the community reeling.

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants, said the closure was ‘diabolical’.

“When you’re taking away the post office, you’re taking away the heart of the community,” he said. “It’s going to have a dire effect on our estate.

“I go there to collect my pension and for lots of people that’s the time they meet people. It’s like an outing. There’s a social side to it as well as a monetary side.”

The alternative branches the Post Office has suggested residents use are Lake Avenue Post Office, in South Parade, and the Post Office in WHSmith in the town centre.

However, Mr Broom says these are too far for many pensioners on the estate.

Mr Broom, who successfully campaigned more than 10 years ago to save the St Olaves Precinct Post Office from closure, praised the staff who work there.

“You could go there with any questions and they will answer it. They’re so happy and cheerful and they don’t deserve this,” he said.

He added that the closure could have a wider impact on the precinct.

“If people can’t get their money up there, there’s a good chance they won’t spend it in the local shops.”

At the post office today, customers voiced their concerns about its sudden closure.

One regular user said: “I’m absolutely disgusted - it’s part of our community.

“I don’t think anyone has taken any consideration as to how it’s going to affect the Howard estate.

“I use it at least three of four times a week because it’s just so convenient. You can park easily and access shops.”

Susanne Game, who uses the post office every fortnight, said the move was ‘very bad’ and ‘a loss’ for the community.

Another customer, who brings parcels to the post office daily for her online business, said: “I’m disgusted. They’ve got to be the most helpful post office in town. I don’t know where I’m going to go now.”

She praised the ‘friendly atmosphere’ at the branch - a testament to the women who work there who ‘always have a smile on their face no matter how big the queue’.

One woman, who attends an exercise class on the estate, said: “Several of us come up here because it’s near to where we are.

“It will be devastating for the community because this is quite a big estate.”

John Gyles manages Peyton Plaice fish and chip shop next door to the post office and has lived on the estate for 48 years.

He said: “It isn’t good for the precinct and especially not for the elderly.

“It’s a kicker for the businesses because if you needed change it’s right on our doorstep.”

The Day Lewis Pharmacy at the precinct also use the post office every Monday and Friday as well as for change for the till.

A member of staff said: “It will be very inconvenient.

“When you go in (to the post office), there’s such a queue and so many people use it. It’s crazy to shut it down.”

A Post Office spokesman said: “The temporary closure of St Olaves Post Office from tomorrow was unplanned.

“At very short notice, the premises are being withdrawn for Post Office.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“We’re working hard to restore Post Office services to St Olaves as quickly as possible.

“The branch has been temporarily managed and we have already been looking for a permanent solution.”

She added that the vacancy will soon be advertised on their website www.runapostoffice.co.uk