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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fighting your corner in the battle to save Anty Cross

THE proposed closure of Anty Cross post office is the most talked about problem in South Dalton.

By Richard Herbert

THE South Dalton election is usually one of the most closely fought contests in Furness.So the pledges made by candidates in the run-up to May 1 ballot could be the difference between winning and losing.Reporter RICHARD HERBERT quizzed candidates on the crucial issues affecting the ward.

So, with such huge opposition, thousands of people will expect their ward councillors to fight tooth and nail to keep it open.

The Conservatives point out they have already launched a high-profile battle to save the post office.

In this month alone, they have brought in two top Tories to back the campaign.

David Gill, chairman of Barrow and Furness Conservative Association and one of its three candidates fighting the Dalton South election, said: “Recent visitors to support us have been Grant Shapps and Philip Hammond.

“Both pledged their support in the Commons for our post office.

“We are collecting signatures and held a stall outside to raise awareness.

“Our group is making an official representation to highlight the special circumstances why it should stay.

“We shall pressure Labour MP John Hutton, who is responsible for this closure, using high level shadow ministers that have our ear.”

Fellow Tory Tim Bell also spoke of the work they had done to date.

Mr Bell added: “If the six Conservative candidates for Dalton are all elected, we can have a real influence and will use this influence to ‘free’ the post offices to take on new lines of business and to play a role as one-stop shops for the local authority.

“We would, of course, in the short term, call for an immediate halt to the closure programme.”

Conservative councillor Dorothy James, who is defending her seat, said she, along with Mr Bell and Mr Gill, plans to carry on the campaign to stop the closure.

Cllr James said: “It would cause a great deal of hardship to the people who live on the estate and the surrounding villages.

“Dalton town centre lies in a hollow with steep hills all round, it would be impossible for elderly, disabled or young mothers with prams and small children to use the Market Street post office.

“Also, parking for those fortunate enough to have a car is impossible.”

Labour candidates are also against the closure.

Wendy Maddox, who is defending her seat, said: “The post office is vital for the people on the estate.

“I have been to see the people who run the post office and given them my support and I have signed their petition.

“If elected, I will lobby my MP for support and, along with the people, will write to the Postmaster General.

“At the end of the day it is a Post Office decision.”

Another Labour candidate, Barry Doughty, said: “I would oppose the actions of the Post Office to close any post offices in the area, especially that of Anty Cross.”

Liberal Democrat Gordon Murray is defending his seat after defecting from the Conservatives.

Councillor Murray said: “The Lib Dem councillors are 100 per cent against the closure of Anty Cross post office.

“We announced to the Evening Mail that Anty Cross was to be closed.

“We will support the local community to keep it open.”

Independent candidate John Millar says he strongly opposes the closure.

He said: “We cannot afford to lose another public resource for residents of Dalton and Newton.

“The post office is a central amenity within a large housing estate and is vital for young and old. I have visited the post office and spoken with residents.

“My wife and I, like many members of the community, have signed the petition to oppose the closure. In addition, in my role as a town councillor with my fellow colleagues, we have shown our opposition to the closure.

“I would hope that with other elected members we could all work together to lobby against the closure.”

Labour candidate Graham Chester was unavailable. But Labour agent Dave Pidduck said: “Graham shares the view of the other Labour candidates in Dalton South that Anty Cross post office should not close.

“He will be working closely with them to seek to retain it.

“Representations will be made to Post Office Ltd supporting the strong arguments for the retention of this facility in Dalton.

“It is important people respond to the consultation being undertaken by Post Office Ltd as it is they who will make the decision on this and other post offices.”

l TOMORROW: Roosecote

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