Villagers now living 11 miles from a bank branch say Post Office has become 'lifeline' after closures

Post Office postmaster and Great Massingham resident Eddie Evans by sign pointing to nearest bank branches

Eddie Evans (right) said the Post Office is a 'lifeline' for many residents after bank branch closures

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 25/08/2023

- 00:01

Residents in Great Massingham, Norfolk, have said their local Post Office has been a “lifeline” after they were hit by bank branch closures

Bank branch closures have left villagers in Great Massingham with just one cash service in their local area.

The nearest bank branch is now 11 miles away, meaning many are relying on the local Post Office to access banking services.

It’s become an “essential” for lots of the residents and businesses in Great Massingham and the surrounding small villages, with many people preferring to use cash and bank in person.

Eddie Evans, 77, said: “Without the Post Office and all the services it provides – including the banking services - the residents of Great Massingham and those in the surrounding villages would be stranded.

Villagers outside the Post Office

Bank branch closures have left villagers in Great Massingham with just one cash service


“I wouldn’t know where to go; It’s a lifeline. I live in Weasenham which is four miles away and we don’t have a pub, shop or buses.

“I pop into the Great Massingham Post Office at least two or three times a week. There’s always someone to chat to and everyone always smiles at you.”

The nearest bank branches in Fakenham and Swaffham are all facing closures, further reducing the number of places local people can access cash.

There is a one hourly bus that travels from Great Massingham to King’s Lynn, but during parts of the day, there is no bus service to and from the village, so for those unable to drive, accessing in-person banking is becoming even more of a challenge.

Mark Dobby, 42, pub landlord of The Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham, said the local Post Office is vital, using its banking services every day.

He said: “Without it, our closest bank would be King’s Lynn. If we used the bank at King’s Lynn, by the time you’ve gone in and made your cash deposits and come back that’s half a day gone.

“It’s not a viable option. It would be near impossible to go to the bank in King’s Lynn every day.”

It also means the pub landlord can continue to accept cash, as they use the Post Office for change. He said: “It allows us to continue to take cash payments from customers – which many like to do.

“If the Post Office was not here, we would have to stop taking cash payments."

The pub landlord added: “It generates passing trade for us and also makes Great Massingham a quintessential village: You have a pub, convenience store, Post Office and doctors’ surgery. It’s all you need and makes Great Massingham a desirable place to live.”

The Barclays in Fakenham is set to close in October, and since it’s been announced, Great Massingham Post Office postmaster Mark Eldridge has had enquiries from several businesses locally to start using the Post Office banking services.

He said: “Our Post Office has become an increasingly vital support for residents and local businesses giving them crucial banking services on their doorstep.

“We sit right at the heart of the community and have seen a 10 per cent increase in people coming in to withdraw or deposit cash every week and with more bank closures around the corner, we expect this to only grow."

The Great Massingham Post Office, which has been in the village for decades and taken over by Mr Eldridge and his dedicated team five years ago, is “a community hub” for the village and surrounding villages.

He said: “The banking services provide a social service; it helps to keep people liquid. So many people still use cash and there are many residents who are not tech savvy and don’t want to use banking apps.
“They like coming into the Post Office to pay cash in or take it out.”

Mark Dobby (left) and Mark Eldridge (right)

Mark Dobby (left) relies on the Post Office for change. Postmaster Mark Eldridge pictured on the right


Access to cash is becoming a growing concern, with more than 5,000 UK bank branches having closed since 2015. There have already been 623 bank branch closures this year, and over 70 are shutting for good in August alone.

The Treasury announced measures to protect free cash access services across the UK last week, hours after GB News delivered its Don’t Kill Cash petition to Downing Street.

Martin Kearsley, director of banking and payments at the Post Office, said the statement from the government was a “really positive step forward in protecting access to cash for consumers and businesses with banks and building societies”.

He added: “The new geographic criteria set out by the government for access to cash services very closely aligns with the existing Post Office access criteria, meaning that we can continue to play a vital role in cash provision.

"We already provide everyday banking services at all Post Offices which enables people to withdraw or deposit cash into their bank accounts. We will also continue to build on our in-person services by introducing more dedicated banking counters, by operating more Banking Hubs and by investing in technology like cash counting machines to improve our services further for the millions who rely on cash.”

He added: “We have seen unprecedented growth in demand for our banking services, as convenient access to cash withdrawals and deposits remains essential for thousands of businesses and local people up and down the country.

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