Exmouth Shanty Men add 'voice' to post office closure battle

PUBLISHED: 13:47 05 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:06 10 June 2010

Video by Stacey Santucci

Video by Stacey Santucci

With 700 people already signed-up to a petition to save St Andrews Road Post Office, the protest group yesterday turned to song.

With 700 people already signed-up to a petition to save St Andrews Road Post Office, the protest group yesterday turned to song.

The latest people to rally behind the post office were the Exmouth Shanty Men, who include town crier Garth Gibson and town clerk John Wokersien.

The Shantymen adapted one of their shanty songs and came up with The Lament of St Andrews Road Post Office, which they sang outside the post office.

Ian Dowell, official organiser for the protest, said: "We made a special request for them to come down and they were brilliant. We have had a team of supporters outside of the post office for every minute since it's been open this week."

The Government had failed in its promise to "rural proof its policies and programmes", East Devon MP Hugo Swire told Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Swire was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on post office closures before the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal services, Mr Pat McFadden. Having secured the debate, Mr Swire raised the plight of four threatened post offices in his constituency: Offwell, Millwey Rise, Axminster, Greenway Lane, Budleigh Salterton, and St Andrew's Road, Exmouth.

He highlighted their importance in serving the surrounding communities.

Mr Swire sought the debate to boost the public consultation process, now ongoing, which calls on residents to submit their views.

He asked the minister if the Prime Minister was genuinely listening to what the people wanted rather than just indulging in a "cynical public relations stunt".

Mr McFadden said the issues raised by Mr Swire were primarily for the Post Office and Postwatch to deliberate on. Defending the charge that the Government had failed to rural proof its policies,

Mr McFadden said: "When we started the closure programme, we could have closed those branches that required the largest subsidy per transaction.

"Those would be in remote rural areas in which the subsidy per transaction is sometimes up to £17. However, because we value the social side of the network, we have used access criteria, which means that 95 per cent of the total rural population across the UK must be within three miles of a post office branch."

l Contact Ian Dowell on 07732591110.

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