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Just two of Kent's threatened post offices survive

CLLR PAUL CARTER: "This whole consultation period has been a farce right from the beginning"
CLLR PAUL CARTER: "This whole consultation period has been a farce right from the beginning"

POSTAL chiefs are to shut 56 post offices across the county. Post Office Ltd has revealed that it intends to shut all but two of the branches earmarked for closure in Kent.

They are the Hawkhurst post office in west Kent and Cliff's End, near Ramsgate. The branches were saved due to a number of issues raised during the six-week public consultation, which ended on November 12.

It was felt the Cliff's End branch had a retail business that provided a "critical service" to the community and both it and the Hawkhurst branch did not have alternative branches within easy reach for customers.

Gary Herbert, Post Office Ltd's network development manager for Kent, said: "These are difficult decisions which have not been taken lightly. We have considered very carefully all the comments made during the public consultation.

"We believe that the amended plan offers our customers across Kent the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the Government's minimum access criteria and the other factors the Government has asked us to consider."

~ Download the Post Office's decision booklet for Kent >>>

In a further blow, Post Office Ltd is also reported to be preparing to consult on closing two that were not on its original hitlist.

They are Goodnestone branch at Sadler Hill, near Canterbury, and the Lane End branch at Darenth, Dartford.

Kent County Council has criticised the decision. Leader Cllr Paul Carter said: "This whole consultation period has been a farce right from the beginning.

"The six-week consultation period was too short, it was further reduced by postal strikes and they then gave themselves just three weeks to review and evaluate the information supplied to them.

"We know that well over 5,000 people sent evidence and responses to Post Office and I don't believe that three weeks gave them enough time to properly digest and take on board that data.

"The fact that only two post office branches have been reprieved suggests to me that they haven't looked at the evidence properly, if at all."

The public consultation was carried out in conjunction with watchdog for Post Office customers Postwatch, and the organisation has confirmed it will not ask for the decision to be reviewed.

KCC is now calling for Post Office Ltd to identify alternative provision to help the communities most affected by closure.

Services will now be provided through the county's remaining network of 295 branches, and improvements will be made to 18 of these outlets.

The first closures are scheduled to take place in January.

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