ANGER greeted confirmation last night that the Post Office is to close 11 more North-Eastbranches, despite protests from local communities.

The latest round of closures is in addition to the 53 that have already taken place in the region.

Four branches in Darlington are affected along with seven in other parts of County Durham. They will close on November 16.

Yesterday's decision comes after campaigns by customers to preserve some of the threatened branches.

Peter Beaty, of the charity Friends of Senior Citizens, collected more than 2,000 names on a petition to save Neville Parade Post Office, in Newton Aycliffe.

It was presented to Tony Blair's agent John Burton, at the Prime Minister's constituency office in Trimdon Grange, County Durham.

Durham City Councillor Carol Wood led a campaign to keep open the Gilesgate Moor and Nevilles Cross post offices and called on the Government to lift the threat of closure, claiming it was an erosion of community facilities.

She said the announcement had come as a disappointment to her and the 1,000-plus residents who signed a petition.

Only last month the axe fell on branches in Harrogate and Ripon. Seven branches in York also face the chop.

The cuts are part of the Post Office's "urban network reinvention programme" a £270m restructuring programme that aims to cut the number of branches to save money.

The programme has led to mergers, closures and relocations throughout the country. About 3,000 post offices have been earmarked to be shut.

The decision to close branches has led to widespread concern among campaigners who say the loss of a post office can have a devastating effect on a local community.

Councillor Alex Watson, leader of Derwentside District Council, said the news put into question the future of general convenience stores working side-by-side with the post offices.

He added: "This is a big disappointment particularly for Stanley given that it is an area of multiple deprivation.

"We are not only having our post offices removed, but will be in danger of losing our corner shops."

Darlington Borough Councillor Isobel Hartley said elderly customers in particular would struggle to collect their pensions.

"People will be expected to travel to Darlington's main post office, yet I know some of them who have difficulty walking or getting public transport," she said.

David Mellows-Facer, head of area for Post Office Ltd, said the decision to close the 11 branches was taken following a public consultation involving customers, MPs and local organisations.

He said the outlets were struggling to survive due to dwindling customer numbers.

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