A 'Save Our Post Office' meeting took place in the Community Centre on the evening of Tuesday 7th April 2015.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore any ideas local residents may have that would enable the Village Post Office in the High Street to be saved. There was certainly a lot of interested local residents, as the hall was full.
Sue, our village postmaster has provided this valuable service for numerous years, and quite understandably now wishes to retire. To date no buyer has emerged to buy the premises, or to continue to run the postal services in the village.
that the existing Post Office was advertised for sale as a Post Office with retail space together with a maisonette above. The entire building is for sale on a freehold basis.
The business receives an annual income from the Post Office of £17,000.
In preparing for the meeting, Michael discovered that when Sue sells the shop or gives notice that she does not want to continue, - the Post Office will close. The Post Office contract is with the individual and not the premises. So, should the premise be purchased, the Post Office element could only continue if someone was prepared to apply to become the Postmaster.
Michael also spoke to the local Post Office representative, Gary Thomas, who was extremely helpful and explained that the Post Office does want to have postal services available in Milford on Sea.
Gary advised that any applications made to the Post Office to become a Postmaster must be made by an individual and submitted together with a business plan and proposal. Payment from the Post Office for providing the postal service is no longer a fixed fee, but it is now based on a transaction basis. Should any application be successful, the Post Office would supply all the equipment required, (Safe, desk, computer etc, up to, in some cases, a value of £16,000 )
Gary has already worked on trying to relocate the Post Office and has had talks with Holland's and the Co Op who felt unable to viably integrate the service into their existing businesses.
There are plans to re-advertise the Milford on Sea Branch on the Post Office website and Gary hopes that one of the other village shops may apply. One of the requirements is that the Post Office must be open all the hours that the host shop is open.
If nobody comes forward, Gary said that they would look at Community alternatives such as another local Post Office coming to Milford on Sea a few hours a week with a mobile postal service, perhaps operating from the Community Centre or Village Hall.
The Post Office representative, Gary Thomas was very willing to speak to anybody who wished to apply for the postmaster position.
One lady was able to advise the meeting that most of the local Post Office branches have a vacancy advertised.
There was a lot of interesting and useful ideas from the floor. Many felt a need to retain the village postal services, but providing the services on a profitable basis becomes more difficult as more services are taken from the post office and people are using other ways to communicate.
Even if the investment to purchase the freehold could be raised, it was agreed that it would not be sensible to purchase the High Street shop if the Post Office element was not guaranteed. The meeting did agree a need to find a location that could host a Post Office service and then try to find someone willing to apply to become the Postmaster and to run the business.
A parish councillor was present at the meeting and agreed to include this as an agenda item at the next Council Meeting.
Michael's original proposal hinged on the community buying the entire existing business and premises (click here to read in full), as this no longer appears a viable option, Michael advised the meeting that he would not be involved any further in leading the project.
Richard Coe and several others from the meeting agreed to investigate forming a Working Group with a clear objective, to find ways to keep a Post Office in Milford on Sea as a vital service to the community.
If you would like to become involved in the new 'Save Our Post Office' Working Group please contact: Richard Coe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Penney was thanked from the floor for the effort and good work he has put in to initiate this project.