Funeral march for village post office

VILLAGERS in Castle Bytham staged a solemn 22-mile cortege journey, complete with undertaker and hearse, in protest at the proposed closure of their post office.

The campaigners, all dressed in black, travelled from Knipton in the Vale of Belvoir to The Castle Inn in Bytham, to highlight the strength of opposition to the closure. Knipton has been suggested to Castle Bytham as a possible alternative for postal services.

Morris Felton, of the Save Our Post Office action group, said: "Knipton has a population of 147 and Castle Bytham has about 5,000, with plans approved by South Kesteven District Council for expansion. Yet Knipton is staying open and our village outlet is threatened. It does not make sense."

In the funeral cortege, some of the protesters wore top hats and walked at a funereal pace behind the vehicle, which contained an empty coffin.

Village shopkeeper Nicky Lyon, who runs the post office with husband Mark, was on the trek.

"It went very well," she said. "Support is 100 per cent in the village and we're getting superb backing from Little Bytham, Swayfield, Corby Glen and all around. Our shop serves 6,000 people from 14 villages. Two things are certain. We will not accept an outreach post office and the demonstrations will continue until the Post Office justifies its criteria for closure."

The funeral cortege was organised by Morris, Charlotte Thurman, manager of The Castle Inn and fellow action group members Dierdre Pawsey and Giles Mullen. It set off from Knipton village hall at 9.45am and arrived in Castle Bytham at 11.30am.

Charlotte, who has lived in the area since she was seven, said: "This village has a high proportion of elderly, young mothers and people who work from home and rely on post office facilities. If they are ended we will become a stagnant hamlet.

"I have been asked by the Post Office if I could incorporate postal facilities in the pub for an extra 3.40 an hour but it's not feasible.

"I have neither the time nor the staff and if I wanted extra security I would have to pay for it myself. The protests will continue."

Click here to download your letter of objection to the post office closure