Shunted between pillar and post box

PUBLISHED: 14:52 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:53 11 May 2010

WHEN you fight so hard to get something back, it must be a real kick in the teeth to have it taken away again. But this is exactly what could happen to the residents of Thriplow, who have seen Post Office Ltd threaten to axe their village office just mont

WHEN you fight so hard to get something back, it must be a real kick in the teeth to have it taken away again.

But this is exactly what could happen to the residents of Thriplow, who have seen Post Office Ltd threaten to axe their village office just months after it re-opened.

A consultation period will run until mid-November, at which time a final decision will be made.

This week a group of villagers clambered aboard a bus to nearby Fowlmere to disprove claims that you can easily travel to other branches in the area.

A "branch access report" released last month claims there are three buses a day from Thriplow to Fowlmere, when in fact there is only one, and unless you fancy spending the night on a nearby park bench, you have just six minutes to go to the post office, post your letters, and get back to the bus stop for the return journey.

Cllr Kevin Clarke, from Thriplow Parish Council, believes you'd have to be "an Olympic sprinter" to get to the post office and back in that time.

And indeed, unless Usain Bolt has bought a second home in South Cambridgeshire, it seems unlikely that anyone could work within that time scale.

Personally I think that the whole closure programme has been handled shockingly by Post Office Ltd.

When speaking to postmasters and mistresses in this area earlier this year, it became evident that some of them knew what was going to happen months ago, while others were kept totally in the dark until the beginning of the original consultation period in July.

The Thriplow office was not even on this initial list, and was only added at the last minute, a move which came completely out-of-the-blue for postmistress Helen Harbud and her customers.

It appears her paymasters don't mind messing about with people's livelihoods and leaving their own staff in limbo.

Thriplow could also lose its village store if the post office goes.

Since June, the shop has been run by enterprising villagers on a co-operative basis, and without the postmistress, funding may struggle to survive.

Surely this is the kind of scheme which should be encouraged and supported in our villages?

We have seen over the last few years, both in this area and across the country, the erosion of village life and community spirit in our countryside, with many small settlements turning into little more than commuter dormitories.

We have a proud tradition in this area of beautiful, unique, villages, and if Thriplow Post Office does go, then a little bit more of that tradition will go with it.

I realise that savings need to made at the Post Office, but perhaps they should look a bit further up the ladder, at the managers and executives who have sanctioned a series of blunders in recent years, including the £2million rebranding of the Post Office as "Consignia", a ludicrous name which was dropped after little more than 12 months.

Instead they choose to impose closures which will affect the daily lives of those most marginalised by our society, such as the elderly and the disadvantaged.

I wish the people of Thriplow luck in their campaign, but fear they are fighting a losing battle.

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