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Sad fate of village dying from within; LOCALS BLAMED FOR FAILING TO USE FACILITIES ON THEIR DOORSTEP.

Byline: RACHEL PINDER

TRADERS in a village near Rugby fear they face a bleak future unless more people start using the local services.

In Willoughby, postmaster Pete Montgomery believes he will have to shut up shop before long, while church congregations have dwindled and the village pub relies on passing trade.

Former parish councillor Mr Willoughby said: "This situation not only affects Willoughby; it is a national problem.

"As well as running the post office, I also deliver newspapers to Willoughby, Grandborough, and Flecknoe, which provides me with more than 50percent of my income.

"But not enough villagers in Willoughby are using the services available to them on their doorstep, and most of my customers come from Grandborough.

"I don't think people realise what they've got until it's gone."

Mr Montgomery, who runs the post office in Main Street, is worried that the village is in decline, as more people tend to shop in bigger towns and retail parks.

The Rev Beth Smith, of St Nicholas CE Church, in Brookes Close, said: "If the post office did close, it would be an absolute tragedy for the village, as it is a lifeline for people who don't have a car.

"Although we might have a small congregation here in Willoughby, we are a faithful, hardworking and happy community.

"Like most rural churches, our churchgoers are getting older, and find it more difficult to get to church. But the spirit is definitely there, and there are some very dedicated people who attend my services on a regular basis."

Ian Stubbings has been the landlord at the Rose Inn, in Main Street, for the past 17 months.

He said: "A lot of the villagers don't use the pub at all. There are about 300 people in the village, but I could count on 1 hands how many of them come into the pub.

"We totally rely on passing trade from cyclists and people on barges, which is why we decided to close on Sunday nights and all day Mondays."

John's Service Station, in London Road, has been closed for more than a year, due to illness, but is due to reopen shortly.

CAPTION(S):

SMALL FLOCK: Vicar the Rev Beth Smith and curate the Rev Bill Griffiths tend to see only the old faithfuls. Picture: LISA CAREY
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 30, 2002
Words:384
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