Naomi Long MLA said: “The short period of consultation coupled with the even shorter period to consider the responses received, held out little hope for change. Nevertheless people engaged and today we are angry, frustrated and hugely disappointed both with the decision and the way in which it was reached. The case made for each of these offices was strong, not only in terms of the numbers of objections, but also the substance of them.
“Well over 1200 people in East Belfast contacted me about the closures of Orangefield, Summerhill and Belmont and a public meeting about Belmont Branch was attended by over 200 people, including schools, businesses and residents who rely on the services provided. Following on the heels of earlier closures at Knock and Knocknagoney, there will now be no Post Office between Holywood, in North Down, and Strandtown Branch and between Dundonald, in Strangford, and Ballyhackamore Branch, leaving a huge swathe of suburban East Belfast without any service. Older people, those with mobility restrictions, and those with young children will be worst hit, and other local businesses which rely on the footfall generated by the Post Office will also face a challenging time.
“Post Office Limited did not create the crisis which it faces, but it is responsible for its approach to tackling it. The only option which they have actively pursued is the closure of branches, despite evidence that every wave of closures has led to another. As the journeys to post offices become longer and more complicated, customers are lost to the business and the decline is accelerated. If they do not think more creatively between now and the next review in 2011, it is almost inevitable that this round of closures will not be the last.”