SO is that it then? Not one single letter to the Bury Times about the imminent closure of the social security office?

You know, that big office with a ramp at the front, opposite Bury Market! Or did no-one notice the tiny paragraph tucked away in the inside pages four weeks ago, next to an article on tortoises!

Seriously, has no-one realised the effect the closure will have on the ability to provide face-to-face customer service on government benefits to vulnerable members of the public, such as those people claiming incapacity benefit (sickness benefit) or bereavement benefit, single parent families, carers, the elderly.

This office has been a central part of community life in Bury for the past 30 years. It is actually one of the best offices in the country and I would guess that most people in Bury have had cause to visit it at one time or another. People will now have nowhere to go unless they are actively looking for a job, in which case it will be Bury Jobcentre on Silver Street.

If you don't fall into the job-seeking category, you will be expected to phone anywhere from Stockport pensions centre, to Bolton social security, Preston or Blackpool and then hang on for ages trying to get through to some faceless person who won't have any local knowledge of Bury whatsoever and wont want any!

Alternatively, you could try calling on our already hard-pressed voluntary agencies such as Age Concern, Citizens Advice etc., who, I am sure, will not be pleased at the news of the closure.

But then it's all part of the Governments plan to streamline and improvethe benefits service to the public. Improve local public services?I think not! It's simply a cost-cutting excercise.