WHEN the last letters are collected from Bradenstoke Post Office in just a few days, the community will be losing more than just another shop.

The battle to save Bradenstoke Post Office is all but lost - despite the best attempts of the parish council.

Margaret Webb, of Church Park, said: "I think we will miss it.

"Especially when it comes to Christmas - that is the time everybody is in there posting parcels.

"A few people get their pensions there too.

"It will absolutely kill the village because if you haven't got a car you're stuck.

"It's only a mile to the next post office in Lyneham, but people can only just about stagger to the post office here from their homes on their walking frames."

Bradenstoke is a small village hidden away to the west of Lyneham.

And apart from the odd military helicopter overhead it is a peaceful haven.

It has so far retained its village hall and pub.

But for many residents the closure of the post office is a sign of the times and the way the village, and many others like it, may be heading.

Mrs Webb said: "The school closed back in 1975 and one thing after another has gone since," she said.

"There were two pubs here when I came.

"You had everything like every village - we were completely self-sufficient. But not now."

Despite the pending closure it is hoped the post office owner will be able to keep the linked shop going until he retires. Lyneham and Bradenstoke Parish councillor John Webb said: "It is the same as rural communities all over. Little by little each bit of village life goes.

"Either the pub's gone or the school's gone so there is very little to do, very little left and communities are finding themselves as dormitories for the commuter belt and towns and cities rather than places where people live and work."

John Major, of Church Park, Bradenstoke, moved to the village 21 years ago and has watched the area change almost beyond recognition with houses worth £20,000 rocketing in price to £220,000.

"We're young enough to not need the post office," he said. "But there would be a lot of pensioners who would be affected and it's always useful for posting the odd letter."

Coun Webb said: "Only one of the post offices on the list of options they gave us can be reached by bus."

He adds that one of the suggested alternatives is Lyneham South Post Office, in the centre of the restricted Lyneham Airbase. "It's a standard problem - those people who are least able to cope with things like a post office closure are going to be the ones who suffer most."

Coun Webb says the parish council would have been happier if those responsible had been honest with them.

"The Government has moved business away from the Post Office then said you're not making money," he said.

The parish council had suggested a reduced two-day a week service, but this was completely ignored according to Coun Webb.

Post office should be subsidised, says MP
CAMPAIGNING North Wiltshire MP James Gray, pictured, has been very vocal on the prospect of post office closures - including the facility at Bradenstoke.

"Post offices provide a social service in many, many communities and whether or not they make a profit they are worth keeping," he said.

"We don't ask whether the police or fire service make a profit.

"It's a valuable social service - so it's reasonable for the tax payer to subsidise it."

He also argues it is the small community post offices which are the most important because people rely more heavily on them in such isolated areas.

"In such areas disabled or elderly people could not go to the nearest town even if they wanted to," said Mr Gray.

He explained that 25 per cent of people living in these isolated areas do not have a car.

"These people rely on the post office and associated shop - it's a piece of vandalism and desecration to close them," he said.

Mr Gray said the present round of 2,500 post office closures was the nail in the coffin of community life for rural areas. He also wondered where the cutbacks on local services would end.

He said: "I have been vocal for a long time in support of all the elements of British life - institutions without which the heart is ripped out of it.

"If the post office goes, nearly always the village shop goes too."

He believes there are five cornerstones of village life - the post office, pub, shop, hall and school. He added: "If they go you end up with increasingly expensive housing and commuter belts for a town."