Local Residents Campaign Against Post Office Closures
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 13, 2004
EBBW VALE, WALES--A local woman is challenging the Royal Mail's decision to close several small post offices in the area, especially the one in her neighborhood.
Dawn Wilcox, 43, who uses a wheelchair and crutches because of her disability, is taking the Royal Mail to court. Wilcox claims the consultation process Royal Mail used to determine which post offices to close was flawed and included inaccurate information.
Wilcox wants the process to start over, this time to include more input from the public. She said she is mostly concerned about plans to shut the Willowtown post office, along with five others, on May 12.
"If this post office closes, then the nearest one will be in the town centre about a mile and a half away, which for me is up hill and down dale," she told BBC News. She explained that she often uses the post office to pay bills, renew licenses, and shop.
"That might be fine on a bright spring day, but it's not the easiest to get to when it's cold, wet or icy."
Wilcox is leading the action but said that nearly 1,000 local people had signed a petition, including young mothers, seniors and other people with disabilities.
The Royal Mail announced last year that about one-third of its 400 post offices -- primarily smaller ones that have less traffic -- would eventually be closed to cut costs. The fact that most benefit checks are being deposited directly into banks means that even fewer people are going to the small post offices.
Community advocates have complained about the closure plans, noting that they affect impoverished communities the most.
"The closure of the Willowtown post office is just another example of amenities being lost in areas which really cannot afford to lose them," said Michael Imperato, a Cardiff solicitor representing Wilcox in the case.
Mail officials said they believed they had met -- and had even exceeded -- their obligations during the last consultation process.