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'It was non-stop' - Long queues for mobile van following post office closure

PUBLISHED: 19:46 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 19:46 24 January 2020

The view from the Rainbow Deli in Fakenham as people used the mobile post office for the first time. Picture: Naomi Katze/Rainbow Deli Norfolk

The view from the Rainbow Deli in Fakenham as people used the mobile post office for the first time. Picture: Naomi Katze/Rainbow Deli Norfolk

Archant

Dozens of people were forced to queue outside to use a mobile van service following the closure of Fakenham's permanent post office.

The post office at Martin's on Miller's Walk, Fakenham, closed on January 20. Picture: ArchantThe post office at Martin's on Miller's Walk, Fakenham, closed on January 20. Picture: Archant

Around fifty people used the service put on at the last minute by Great Massingham Mobile Post Office, which is run from the village's store owned by Mark Eldridge.

It comes following the closure of the post office which was based in Martin's, after McColl's Retail Group confirmed back in August that the newsagent's lease would not be renewed.

Now the mobile post office is set to visit Fakenham every Thursday at Market Square between 1pm and 4pm. It completed its first visit on January 23.

Its driver and post master, Ady Curson, said they were keen to get the van out to Fakenham to help support the town.

"A lot of people were happy to see us but many people were also disgruntled - as you would expect them to be.

"The first two hours I was there, it was non-stop."

Mr Curson has worked on the van for the past 11 months and said he planned on returning weekly to the town until a more permanent solution could be found.

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He believed there had been discussions about a pop-up post office opening in a vacant unit in town, but said he was unable to confirm.

As well as being wheelchair-friendly, the mobile post office is also able to offer many of the same services as a standard post office, including cash withdrawal and utility top up, but is unable to issue licenses such as fishing and television.

He added: "It's been good being able to help people in the town."

Co-owner of the Rainbow Deli Norfolk, Naomi Katze, who runs the eatery with her husband Alan, witnessed how busy the mobile service had been.

She said: "It was busy as soon as it arrived in the town.

"How has it come to a once a week service, when it's been known for months? The elderly, businesses, have all lost a huge service."

Speaking after Fakenham Town Council's meeting on Tuesday, January 21, councillor Jim Rockett said he was not impressed by the authority's response.

He added that it was "ridiculous" that a six day a week service had been replaced by a three-hour mobile service once a week, and urged people to contact their MP.

Mayor Gilly Foortse added that final discussions between McColl and the Post Office had "taken longer than either party expected".

A Post Office spokesperson said it was "working hard" to maintain a service in Fakenham.

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