MP helps villagers win battle over PO hours

Courtesy of the Blackmore Vale Magazine

Villagers are celebrating victory in a battle against the might of the Post Office to keep its service at its community shop.

Bishops Caundle faced losing the service entirely and having a two-hour a week outreach service unless more volunteers came forward to run it.

Liz Lyon, chairman of the shop's management committee, said the community's plan for 15 hours a week was rejected by the Post Office.

She said: "They were adamant it had to be 31 hours a week and we couldn't do that. We were able to offer 16.5 hours and that was rejected."

The team turned to West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin for help.

And now they have heard their offer has been accepted.

Liz said: "This is very good news for the village and people living in other villages too. We have to go through the application process that takes some time but I hope that we will be able to start with the new hours this autumn.

"The Post Office has said yes so we are just getting on with all the paperwork now."

She started negotiating the arrangement last August and said she was delighted with the outcome.

She said: "I feel we have moved a mountain thanks to Oliver Letwin and the committee. People were furious when they heard what the Post Office wanted to do - it would have left us with a two-hour service on a Friday morning."

She said the community store had to cover its costs and paying wages for 31 hours of post office service would have incurred a loss.

This year the store has made a profit that will enable improvements to be made.

Mr Letwin said: "I am delighted that the Post Office has agreed to a sensible scheme that will enable people in Bishops Caundle to receive a service that meets their needs."

The shop premises are owned by Sherborne Castle Estates. It stocks an increasing amount of local produce and is open seven days a week.

Dee Adcock