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Long march of the 400 in defiance of senseless' closure

PUBLISHED: 09:51 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:52 07 September 2010

MORE than 400 angry residents braved wind and rain on Saturday to march in protest at the closure of Formosa Street post office in Maida Vale. Led by Blackadder and Time Team star Tony Robinson, the residents marched the mile uphill and across four main r

MORE than 400 angry residents braved wind and rain on Saturday to march in protest at the closure of Formosa Street post office in Maida Vale.

Led by Blackadder and Time Team star Tony Robinson, the residents marched the mile uphill and across four main roads to the St John's Wood branch and back again.

People of all ages took part, including several in wheelchairs, parents pushing prams, a woman carrying an oxygen mask and a blind man.

The Formosa Street branch is the last one in Maida Vale and residents say the reasons the Post Office has given for closing the branch are untrue and unfair.

Mr Robinson said: "The post office is the hub of economic activity in our area as far as small businesses are concerned.

"The idea that residents and businesses could go to the other post office in St John's Wood is absurd.

"More importantly than that, the post office gives a meaning and purpose to the whole area.

"There is no genuine reason why it should be closed. It is clearly viable and there isn't any alternative branch where we can go to. The only reason they are closing it is to get the subsidy - we are being hit by the damage and it makes no sense.

"This is about large scale organisations trying to solve their financial problems without giving any thought to the local people. It is phenomenal that so many people have showed up for the march and is indicative of how strongly people feel about it.

"We have been lied to. They lied to us when they closed Clifton Road and they said there was going to be a proper consultation, which there hasn't been."

Some older and less mobile residents could not finish the march - and campaigners say it is these people the Post Office should be paying attention to.

About 2,000 people have also signed a petition to protest at the closure. This will be presented to parliament by MP Karen Buck.

Resident Hazel Hindler said: "I have lived here for 22 years and Formosa Street has always been a community. We used to have a pharmacist and a grocer, and the shops are going one by one. If we lose the post office as well it will be terrible."

Former deputy chairman of the post office Sam Wainwright, who lives in Maida Vale, said: "You saw at the march a community spirit which reminded me of the Blitz. More than 400 people showing up in the rain really is amazing.

"The consultation process is defective and, on the criteria laid down by the Post Office itself, the closure of the Formosa Street branch is unjustified and indefensible."

Elizabeth Virgo, from the Paddington Waterways and Maida Vale Society, said: "The march was very good - a very good turnout. I was very impressed considering the rain. The police were really lovely and helped us out a lot.

"The range of people there was great too - from older people to children on tricycles - a real cross section of the population."

susanna.wilkey@hamhigh.co.uk

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