GREG STONE STEPS UP CAMPAIGN TO SAVE ST ANTHONY'S POST OFFICE

September 11, 2008 12:01 AM

Local campaigner Greg Stone is stepping up the fight to save St Anthony's Post Office from closure.

Local residents in St Anthony's and Walker have reacted with shock and bemusement to the news that the branch has been added to the Royal Mail closure programme at the last minute.

There is particular concern over the decision, which appears to have been reached as a result of a post office in Blaydon being saved from closure.

All other post offices on the "hit list" were closed following a consultation process, which saw thousands of people protest about other closures in the region.

Councillor Greg Stone, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said: "It is difficult to understand why this post office was deemed suitable to save three months ago when the initial list was released, but is now deemed to be appropriate to be closed.

"Closing this branch would have a hugely detrimental effect on local regeneration and would mean the entire area of the East End, south of Welbeck Road and Shields Road, being without a local post office."

The move appears to breach Government policy on protection of urban post offices in disadvantaged urban areas - Walker Ward is in the top 1% nationally.

Councillor Stone, who represents North Heaton Ward, continued: "I raised this matter as an emergency item at the city council meeting last week and called for the council to make representations to the Royal Mail and Postal Services minister Pat McFadden MP to protect this post office.

"I have met with the local sub-postmaster, who is deeply unhappy about the situation, but is prevented from speaking out, and I have launched a petition which more than 200 people signed in the first two days.

"We are also sending a newsletter to all Walker residents about this matter, asking them to support the campaign.

"Sadly, support from Labour on this important issue has not been forthcoming.

"Labour councillors have done nothing to intervene, and Labour newsletters in the East End earlier this year accused the Lib Dems of 'scaremongering' over this issue, and claimed that no post offices were going to close."