Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey criticises Post Office’s ‘inflexibility’ in Yoxford

Therese Coffey

Therese Coffey - Credit: Archant

An east Suffolk MP has accused the Post Office of giving her constituents a “much poorer service” due to the “inflexibility” of its approach.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey raised the issue of reduced post office services in Yoxford with the business secretary Vince Cable when she expressed concerns about its “dogged” approach to proposals for a new franchise.

The village’s former post office closed in July 2014 and the company’s head office said it has since been “looking at the best way to return a sustainable service to the area”.

One option supported by Dr Coffey is for Horners convenience store in High Street to operate a branch under the Local Post Office model.

Although the store owner Chellia Paramasivam said he would be happy to operate such a model, he could not commit to the opening hours, which he claims the Post Office required of him.

Instead, Dr Coffey says the Post Office is working towards providing an “outreach” service, operated by another branch, which would visit the village hall on a weekly basis.

However the weekly visits would be for far fewer than the 60 hours potentially provided by Horners, which would be more than had been previously offered by the old post office.

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“This is an astonishing situation,” she added.

“The store owner was happy to provide many more hours of services but did not want to open the Post Office counter on a Sunday.

“Due to the dogged inflexibility of the Post Office Yoxford residents are now faced with a service for just two hours a week.

“It is disgraceful. I have given the Post Office several opportunities to reverse this decision which they have failed to do.”

The Post Office has responded by saying that although the Horners option “wasn’t reached previously” it had not been completely rejected and may be revisited at a future date.

“The Post Office Local model is one option,” a spokesman said.

“This would see an open-plan post office serving point installed at the retail counter of an existing business.

“With this model, post office services are not a separate function and are available alongside the retail offering of the operator throughout the retailer’s opening hours.”

Yoxford parish chairman Nigel Kerridge said he was unaware of the Horners proposals but discussions had been in place about the outreach option and where that could operate from.

“The parish council has offered money to support it in the village hall,” he added.

In the meantime, Dr Coffey said she will “keep pressing the case”.

“The Government rightly provides a lot of public subsidy to support post offices,” she added.

“The secretary of state has promised to raise this with the Chief Executive of the Post Office, Paula Vennells.

“It is essential that the Post Office changes its stance for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

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