POST Office officials today announced two neighbouring branches are the latest in line to face the axe.

The closures are part of a national programme to restructure and modernise Post Office Ltd's national network of more than 9,000 urban offices because of a downturn in business.

Burnley Road post office in Rawtenstall and Wood Top post Office, in Bury Road, Rawtenstall, are set to close after a preference exercise which found that the branches should close permanently in July.

The closures of Edgeside Holme post office in Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, and Shuttleworth post office, Ramsbottom, were announced earlier this year.

Brian Gorton sub-post master at Burnley Road post office said he had already stated saying his goodbye's to his loyal customers.

He added: "I want to say goodbye in my own way and will thank each and every customer for their custom over the years."

Customers will have to travel half a mile to get to the Valley Centre, Rawtenstall, or Crawshawbooth post office which are the nearest to Burnley Road and Wood Top.

Eddie Herbert, head of area, today said: "In the case of Burnley Road and Wood Top, a declining number of customers, increased running costs and increased customer choice as to how their benefits are paid after the introduction of direct payment into accounts, have prompted the sub-postmasters to want to leave our organisation.

"We have considered these requests very carefully and have concluded that if these offices were to close, it would improve the long-term prospects of the other offices in the area, two of which are within 1.1 miles."

Mr Herbert said the main aim of the cuts was to safeguard access to a post office for all communities.

He added: "We are confident the other post offices could cope with the extra business and therefore we are proposing to close Burnley Road and Wood Top permanently.

"Before we make a final decision, we are keen to hear of any concerns people might have about the closures."

Anybody with any opinions or concerns should write to National Consultation Team, PO Box 641, St Albans, AL1 5XN.