Post office will reopen

POST office bosses have moved to reassure customers dependent on their services that the closure of a busy rural branch will not be permanent. The resignation of James Goane, 71, whose family have run the post office and shop at Walsham le Willows, near Bury St Edmunds, for the past 15 years, has left officials hunting for a replacement.

POST office bosses have moved to reassure customers dependent on their services that the closure of a busy rural branch will not be permanent.

The resignation of James Goane, 71, whose family have run the post office and shop at Walsham le Willows, near Bury St Edmunds, for the past 15 years, has left officials hunting for a replacement.

But finding a new postmaster for the village will not be easy, residents have warned, with potential applicants discouraged by the costs involved.

"I am retiring for health reasons, as I have got to go into hospital for a triple bypass operation," said Mr Goane. "The Post Office is in the process of looking for someone else to take the branch on, but they will need to find premises as the current shop is part of our home.


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"All the local businesses in the village are well-supported, but less people have been using the post office since the new banking systems were brought it. Most of the young mothers and quite a few pensioners have opted for having their money paid direct into their accounts, which I am sure will be a problem for branches in the future."

Paul Hubbard, who owns the village butcher's shop, investigated the possibility of establishing a new post office within his premises.

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But the mounting costs of the project – the majority of which would come direct from Mr Hubbard's own pocket – made the proposition unviable.

He said: "I can now see why a lot of rural post offices have shut, as it seems impossible that anyone could take it on and make it pay.

"The new sub-postmaster would need to rely on income from setting up a shop and selling other items to make the business viable.

"Branches like this are meant to provide a service to the village, and it is a great shame we will lose this facility because the Post Office could not help a little more with the costs."

The news comes as the latest in a long line of rural post office closures, but bosses have moved to reassure local people the move is not permanent.

"We share our customers disappointment at this turn of events and would like to assure them that we are committed to restoring easily accessible and relevant services as soon as possible," said Steve Rayner, of Post Office Ltd. "We are working hard behind the scenes within the local community to achieve this aim.

"We'd urgently like to hear from potential applicants, with premises available. The sooner people contact us, the quicker we can get on and explore the possibilities."

The news of the closure has concerned Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who said many of his elderly constituents relied heavily upon the service.

"My constituents in Walsham le Willows will be particularly badly hit by this closure," he said. "There are many elderly residents in this village who depend on a functioning post office in the heart of their community. For them – and indeed for the rest of the population – the Badwell Ash post office and the Stanton branch are not convenient.

"The closure of rural post offices is always a great blow for the local community and I do hope the Post Office will do everything possible to re-open the branch in the near future."

Mr Goane will close his store, on the High Street, on September 26. Anyone interested in applying for the vacancy should telephone 0845 601 6260.

Alternatively, write to Agency Recruitment, Human Resources, Freepost NWW 1675A, Salford, Manchester, M5 9JB.

n Whepstead Post Office, which closed following Florence and Bob Sullivan's decision to retire from the branch, is to re-open for two afternoons a week.

The service will run from the Brockley Road Community Centre between 2pm and 4.30pm every Tuesday and Thursday from October 28.

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