Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

'It's just cruelty to the elderly'

Nowhere is a post office closure felt more keenly than in a village, town or suburb.

One such branch earmarked for closure is Garvery, a few miles outside Enniskillen.

Sub-postmaster John Leonard took over the branch last year from his mother, who had been there for 25 years.

"Our main customers would be the elderly and the farming community," he said.

"When you get to 70 years of age do you really want to be going into the centre of Enniskillen and standing in a queue for 25 minutes? It's just cruelty to the elderly.

"What are farming people supposed to do? Are they supposed to march into town with their cattle trailer and a four wheel drive jeep to get a stamp?"

Mr Leonard said he believed the closures would be regretted in future years.

"When it's all over and done and the accountants have looked at it and analysed it they'll realise they've spoilt part of the community. They'll try and bring it back and it'll be gone," he said.

Meanwhile, local MLA Tommy Gallagher said the poor public transport service would also exacerbate difficulties faced by elderly and disabled customers in using branches further afield.

"It's a further threat to the future of rural communities," he said.

"It is a key service, particularly in rural areas.

"Closures do mean that the community loses something as a service but also as a centre where people go once a week There's a social side to it as well."