Plans to close half of all post offices provoke backlash

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A furious row erupted last night as campaigners called on the Government to save thousands of post offices from closing. The chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee, Tory MP Peter Luff, said the closure of half of all post offices was "very disturbing".

Pensioners' groups are appealing for post offices to be kept open. Joe Harris, the general secretary of the National Pensioners' Convention, said: "The Government seems content to attack the fabric of our society without any thought of the impact on our most vulnerable citizens."

Trade and Industry secretary Alistair Darling will tell MPs this week how much future funding will be available to support the Royal Mail, which is running at a loss of £4m a week.

Closure of some of Britain's 14,500 post offices looks likely, with rural areas the worst hit. A spokesman for the Royal Mail said: "The amount of funding the Government provides will determine the network's size."

The Government spends £150m a year supporting 9,400 rural post offices but funds will run out in 2008.