Village to lose its post office
THE imminent closure of a post office will leave a community without the facility for the first time in 160 years.Rescue plans are being considered by villagers in Lower Ufford, near Woodbridge, to set up alternative facilities.
By Richard Smith
THE imminent closure of a post office will leave a community without the facility for the first time in 160 years.
Rescue plans are being considered by villagers in Lower Ufford, near Woodbridge, to set up alternative facilities.
But there is expected to be a period of several weeks when the village will be without the vital community facility and the parish council is worried that residents will make a habit of shopping elsewhere.
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Judy Lewis, the sub-postmaster, is retiring on September 13. Mrs Lewis and her husband Alan run the post office and village shop in their home in Lower Road, Lower Ufford.
The couple have declined to comment on the closure and it is unclear what will happen to the site because the couple have not applied for a change of use for the building.
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David Chenery, chairman of Ufford Parish Council, said: “The future of the village shop and post office has been a village talking point for several years. The sudden and imminent closure has come as a surprise and is a great loss to the community.
“The parish council has seen the shop as an important village asset. Our biggest worry now is that when the post office closes people will take their business elsewhere.
“As soon as we became aware the shop was on the market we looked at options. A community shop requires a huge amount of voluntary effort which cannot be acquired overnight.”
John Adcroft, a parish councillor, is currently working on an urgent plan to turn his barn in Loudham Lane into a shop and post office.
He has been appointed sub-postmaster but he needs planning permission from the district council before he can convert his building.
Mr Adcroft, in a letter to all residents, said he wanted to have a farm shop with food and produce from the surrounding area and off-road parking.
But he warned: “The new building regulations are onerous and will require me to search for available grants.”
A district council spokesman said: “A planning application has not yet been received but we do expect one soon. Equally, I cannot say at this stage how we would react to the planning application, but the council is keen to see Ufford retain this important community facility.”
Mr Chenery said: “If this goes ahead we will be delighted. It will preserve a community presence which goes well beyond shop sales.
“It will also keep money within the village and away from supermarket profits which we see as an ongoing threat to all village shop.”
Three years ago, Mr and Mrs Lewis were refused planning permission to turn their business into living accommodation.
They said they had made several efforts to increase trade by advertising, sending out leaflets, and making public appeals for support, but trade had not increased enough to make the business viable.
Planners said in 2003: “The proposed change of use from post office to becoming part of a single dwelling would result in the loss of an existing key village facility and associated employment to the detriment of the economy and vitality of the rural community.
“Insufficient evidence has been put forward to show that the post office is not or cannot be made financially viable, or cannot be sold as a going concern.”