RESIDENTS and councillors are gearing up to fight to save a Darlington post office, which could face closure in spring.

Firthmoor post office, in Brignall Moor Crescent, could close by March as part of a national programme that will see many urban branches axed.

Darlington Borough Council leader Councillor John Williams has pledged to fight for the future of the vital community service.

A council spokesman said he would be "putting a strong case" to the Post Office, demanding it keeps the service running.

Mr Williams said: "I am asking that with the regeneration of the Firthmoor area, including the new housing we have got planned and the new school opening this week, that the post office stays open.

"A post office is a vital part of that community - people need a post office in Firthmoor and we will be fighting to make sure it remains open."

Last year, councillors approved a scheme to build more than 400 replacement houses as part of the regeneration of the area.

A £1.2m school opened this week and there are plans to demolish and rebuild the community centre.

The estate has also seen closed-circuit television cameras installed, which have helped in the fight against crime.

The Post Office is arguing that there are too many branches in the area competing for too little business.

Earlier this week, area spokesman David Mellows-Facer said that alternative post offices in Yarm Road, Geneva Road, and Darlington town centre would be ready to cope with the extra customers if the closure went ahead.

But he pledged not to make a decision until customers had expressed their views.

Last night, angry resident Bert Savage said: "We need the post office in Firthmoor, and never more so than when we are having all these new houses built.

"Yarm Road or Geneva Road is a fair hike for the old dears who are going to collect their pensions.

"Shutting the one in Firthmoor just doesn't make sense to me."

Anyone who wishes to comment on the plans is invited to write to Mr Mellows-Facer, at the following address by February 10: National Consultation Team, PO Box 641, St Albans, AL1 5XN.