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Support plea for rural post offices


Rural post offices set up in shops, community centres and mobile vans are in danger of closing because of a lack of support from the Royal Mail, a consumer group has warned.

Consumer Focus said many rural branches risked closure unless the Post Office improved the reliability and range of services they offered.

Hundreds of the outreach post offices have been set up since the closure programme in 2007, often in rural areas where there were not enough people to support a full time branch, providing an "essential" service for thousands of people, said the report.

Research, including a survey of 1,000 consumers, showed that one in three people were not using their local outreach office because the opening hours or location were unsuitable.

Andy Burrows of Consumer Focus, said: "Outreach post offices are providing vital services to many isolated communities. If they shut, it will be much harder for people to access services they rely on, for example to collect their pension. If they are to survive, Post Office Limited must stop treating outreach post offices and their customers like they are a poor relation.

"Outreach post offices need to be allowed to change and meet local demand for new services. With proper support, outreach post offices can thrive to become the heartbeat of the areas they serve."

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