THREE Chester post offices are to close in the new year, despite the efforts of residents and councillors to keep them open.
Post office bosses announced on Tuesday that offices in Green Lane in Vicars Cross, Cliveden Road in Lache, and Kingsway would close from January 21 as part of a national programme of urban closures.
Communities set up petitions and wrote letters objecting after officials announced in October they were planning to close them because of falling customer numbers and increased running costs, and to ensure the viability of the remaining 22 offices in the city.
A public consultation exercise by Post Office Ltd ended two weeks ago.
Area boss Dave Barrett said: 'The main concerns were about the effect of closures on the more elderly and the convenience of nearby, alternative branches.
'I also spoke to Christine Russell MP and met four local councillors to discuss their concerns about the proposed closures. The points they raised were given careful consideration along with all the other representations we received.
'While I appreciate that it will be inconvenient for some customers to use an alternative post office, I have taken into account the local terrain, parking and public transport. A senior manager has also visited the area and 'walked the ground' to assess all aspects of accessibility.
'Having carefully considered all the points raised, I still believe that the permanent closure of these three offices is the correct course of action. I am confident that the other 22 branches in the area are suitably located and can cope with the extra business.'
He added: 'Proposals to close post offices are not made without considerable research and discussion - our aim is to safeguard access to a post office for all communities. The harsh reality is that many urban offices are struggling to survive because there are too many branches for the amount of business.
'Post offices in Chester constituency have been affected by a declining number of customers, increasing running costs and the prospect of even less business now the Department of Works and Pensions is transferring benefit payments from passbooks to bank accounts.'