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DOZENS of post offices in Hampshire will close from next month, it was announced this morning.

The Post Office announced its decision to close 61 of its 291 full-time sub post offices in rural and urban areas of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The decision follows a six-week public consultation, which ended in November.

The closures will take place from next month and will leave just 300 branches serving the two counties.

Plans for eight outreach' branches have also been approved by the Post Office and will go ahead subject to the support of watchdog Postwatch.

The outreach branches will see restricted post office services provided by third party premises, such as WH Smith or mobile post offices. Locations for these branches have not been decided yet.

The public consultation sparked concern and anger among Hampshire people, concerned their local post office will close and they will not be able to access its services easily.

Earlier this month, Southampton MP Alan Whitehead called for the Post Office to postpone its decisions, stating walking routes to alternative branches often include bypasses, dimly-lit parks and underpasses that had not been considered.

Tim Nickolls, Post Office Ltd's Network Development Manager for Hampshire and The Isle of Wight, said 99.5% of the population would see no change to their existing nearest branch or remain within one mile of an alternative.

He added: ''These are difficult decisions which have not been taken lightly.

''We have considered very carefully all the comments made during the public consultation.

"We believe that the amended plan announced today offers our customers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the Government's minimum access criteria and the other factors the Government has asked us to consider."

The branch closures are set to begin in February.