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My right hon. Friend makes a telling point. The view is shared by many people in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton that the whole consultation process is a sham and that no notice will be taken by the Post Office of the views of local residents. The fact that no one from the Post Office attended that public meeting in Bognor Regis compounds that view. The Select Committee said of the process:
"The lack of transparency also leads to a misunderstanding of the nature of the consultation among local residents, and has engendered the belief that the public consultations are a sham."
The branches proposed for closure in my constituency are in areas where a high proportion of the residents are elderly or very elderly, by which I mean over the age of 85. The Craigweil-on-Sea branch serves a population in which 38 per cent. are retired and the Aldwick branch serves a population in which 36 per cent. are retired. Nearly 40 per cent. of the residents of Aldwick and Craigweil are over the age of 65 and 5 per cent. are over 85.
In Littlehampton the Beach branch in Norfolk road serves a population in which 27 per cent. are retired, more than a quarter are over the age of 65 and more than
"one in five people have a Limiting Life Long illness."
The people who use the Norfolk road branch tend to be very elderly people who live close by and who can just walk the short distance to the post office and the grocery store, but no further. As the Select Committee report said:
"We have had numerous complaints that proposals failed to take account...of high concentrations of elderly or disabled people living close to offices scheduled for closure."
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