Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 13:57 UK

Closure plan for 52 post offices

Post office sign
People have until 15 September to voice their opinions on the plans

The Post Office plans to shut 52 north and mid Wales branches as part of a scheme to cut the UK total by 2,500.

Managers say they must cut the existing 271 branches, and while the process is hard, most people will see no change.

Fourteen branches could provide an "outreach service", which could mean a mobile post office visiting an area.

A seven-week consultation process is beginning, but a number of politicians said rural areas, and the elderly and vulnerable, would be hardest hit.

But managers said that more than 98% of the public would see no change.

Many rural villages will now lose an integral part of the community structure and it is the elderly and vulnerable who will be hardest hit
Eleanor Burnham AM

One part of the proposals means communities might have a mobile post office, or possibly a post office being set up in a premises a few hours each week.

This is the latest consultation on proposed closures across Wales.

Steve Geraty, Post Office Ltd's network development manager for North Wales, said taking the decision to close any branch was "always very difficult".

Anglesey: Caergeiliog, Holyhead; Church Terrace, Holyhead; Four Mile Bridge, Holyhead; Llaingoch Community Centre, Holyhead; Ffordd Deg, Llanbedrgoch; Bron Craig, Old Llandegfan; Siop Isa, Talwrn, Llangefni
Conwy: Abergeke Road, Colwyn Bay; Llandudno Road, Rhos-on-Sea; Church Drive, Rhos-on-Sea; Penmaen Road, Morfa; Alexandra Road, Llandudno; Conway Road, Llandudno Junction
Denbighshire: Trevor, Llangollen; Gronant, Prestatyn; Rhyl East Road, Rhyl; Grange Road, Rhyl; Clocaenog, Ruthin; Llanfwrog, Ruthin
Gwynedd: Carneddi, Bethesda; Gerlan, Bethesda; Talybont, Barmouth; Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog; Cwmyglo, Caernarfon; Llanwnda, Caernarfon; Deiniolen, Caernarfon; Llanfrothen; Penmorfa, near Porthmadog; Bwlchtocyn, Pwllheli; Llangian, near Abersoch; West End, Pwllheli
Flintshire: Golftyn, Deeside; Londis Stores, Holywell; Bronant, Holywell; Brynford, Holywell; Carmel, Holywell; Reflections Hairdressers, Mold; Ruthin Road, Mold; New Brighton, Mold; Rhosesmor, Mold
Wrexham: Cymau Road; Marchwiel; New Broughton; Ponciau; Rhos y Medre; Tanyfron; Acton Park; Bradley; Rhosrobin; Summerhill
Powys: Aberangell, Machynlleth

"We want to ensure that everyone who uses, relies on or has any concern with Post Office services is both fully aware of the proposed changes, and able to give views on them.

He said rural north Wales - where 76% of the population live - would be served by 240 branches.

The town or urban area would have 31 branches - which includes six main post offices.

A further nine will serve communities defined as deprived and another 132 which provide the only access to money in a particular community.

Mr Geraty said: "We believe these proposals offer the best prospect for a sustainable way forward for post office services in north Wales, bearing in mind the minimum access criteria and the other factors which we have to consider."

Local views

But Plaid Cymru Caernarfon MP Hywel Williams MP said: "Clearly it is a concern for all MPs in the area, particularly those with rural constituencies such as mine."

Mr Williams, who is organising a series of public meetings in his constituency from the end of August, said he hoped the Post Office would listen to local views.

He said there was a responsibility on the Post Office and the UK government to ensure that services were provided in both rural and urban areas, but he feared a decision had already been made that a certain number of closures would be made.

North Wales Liberal Democrat AM Eleanor Burnham said: "Many rural villages will now lose an integral part of the community structure and it is the elderly and vulnerable who will be hardest hit.

"The closure of post offices means that people often have to travel quite a distance to get to post office, causing great inconvenience. Losing a local post office will leave the elderly and those with limited mobility feeling isolated."

Darren Millar, Conservative AM for Clwyd West, said: "It is clear many communities in Conwy and Denbighshire will now have a battle on their hands if they are to keep the services which so many of them depend upon."

Wrexham Labour MP Ian Lucas said "feelings are running high" and urged people to make their views known if they wanted to save their post office.

But he said the issue had become a "political football," and argued that the opposition would not match the investment of billions the government had made in the service.

Eifion Pritchard, chairman of watchdog group Postwatch Wales, said he accepted the "rationale for change," but it was important that "customer inconvenience and confusion" was minimised.

"That means Post Office Ltd's decisions must be sensible and public consultation meaningful," said Mr Pritchard. "Our priority is to ensure this is the case."

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