Funding row over new village post office

A RURAL sub-postmaster has criticised the Post Office over its decision not to help in a project aimed at sustaining the village facility.Geoff Laurence , shopkeeper and sub-postmaster at Gislingham, near Eye for the past 18 years, is currently investing in the construction of new premises at a cost of £150,000.

By David Green

A RURAL sub-postmaster has criticised the Post Office over its decision not to help in a project aimed at sustaining the village facility.

Geoff Laurence , shopkeeper and sub-postmaster at Gislingham, near Eye for the past 18 years, is currently investing in the construction of new premises at a cost of £150,000.

He said he believed that the transfer of the shop and post office from an existing building attached to his five-bedroom home would be in the best long-term interests of the village.


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However, Mr Laurence, 59, said the Post Office - which had supported him and other sub-postmasters in bygone years - had declined to help him with the cost of providing a new security system in the new building.

“I feel people thinking of coming into this sort of business should be aware that they are unlikely to get any financial help from the Post Office these days,” he said.

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During his 28 years as a sub-postmaster the Post Office had previously helped with refurbishment work and the installation of a modern alarm system.

Mr Laurence added: “When we came here 18 years ago they helped with the total refurbishment and ten years ago they contributed to the cost of the new alarm system.

“This time they are not prepared to give us a penny towards work which may well ensure that Gislingham has a shop and post office after we retire.

“I don't think many people coming in to this business would want to buy a shop and post office if they also had to buy a large, five-bedroomed house. “The smaller, self-contained building will be more economic for any young family who may take the business over.”

Mr Laurence said he would not want to see the shop and post office close in years to come.

“Every time something closes in a village it kills it slightly,” he said.

Mark Bell, a spokesman for Post Office Limited, said it continued to financially support post offices throughout the country with the cost of security enhancement and improvements to the retail environment, but it could not comment on individual applications for help.

“Every request is considered on its merits,” he added.

Gislingham Post Office, thought to be one of the first established in Suffolk, has been housed in the same building since 1841.

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