Little Paxton fighting to save post office

VILLAGERS in Little Paxton are working to save their post office after it was announced it would close next Wednesday (December 5).

The decision was made after the post office manager, Jed Patel, decided to move back to his business in Sawtry in order to spend more time with his family.

According to Mr Patel, who owns Sawtry Mini-Mart, the owner of the village post office which is in St James’ Road – known only as the Colonel – moved back to India 15 months ago and he has no way of contacting him.

Mr Patel said he gave notice to Post Office Ltd and it would be assuming responsibility for the service, although, for the immediate future, this looks set to be a mobile post office. “I looked after the business while the owner was away but when I found out he couldn’t come back I made a decision to go back to my business,” he said. “The Post Office is now looking at how to maintain the service.”

Little Paxton Parish Council said it was aware the facility will be closing, but was determined to do as much as possible to make sure residents were not affected.

Parish clerk, Jenny Gellatly, said the council was working with the Post Office change team and “other agencies” to initially provide a temporary post office service until an alternative premises can be found and a new postmaster appointed.

“We’re looking at the possibility of a mobile van as an interim measure,” she told The Hunts Post. “We are very aware that the village needs the facility and we are working closely with the Post Office to try to establish this as soon as possible.

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“We hope to have something in place in the weeks before Christmas, but there are things we need to consider, including the capacity of the vehicles and various legal checks which must be carried out.”

A spokesman for Post Office Ltd added: “We have committed to no branch closures under our modernisation programme and we are determined to keep the network at its current size.”

The Little Paxton closure comes on the back of changes at Eynesbury Post Office, situated in the One Stop Shop in Berkley Street – a transformation that could lead to job losses.

The scheme being considered for Eynesbury, which is currently in place at Godmanchester and Buckden, would see the traditional security-screened counter disappear, with a limited number of services available at the shop’s checkout.

Eynesbury Councillor, Steve Van de Kerkhove, told The Hunts Post: “This is a disgrace. The Post Office is planning to withdraw both the security counter in the shop and important services.

“The only other post office is in St Neots and with the decrepit infrastructure around the town it’s going to be a nightmare to use – not to mention people will be queuing even more than they do at the moment.”