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Warning of more trouble for post offices

PUBLISHED: 10:17 03 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 March 2010

RURAL post offices have suffered a further blow with sub postmasters fearing plans by Consignia, the former Royal Mail, could prevent people from trying to buy such businesses when they come up for sale.

RURAL post offices have suffered a further blow with sub postmasters fearing plans by Consignia, the former Royal Mail, could prevent people from trying to buy such businesses when they come up for sale.

They claim the company's decision to scrap second delivery services in several trial areas may deter potential buyers from taking on post offices which in turn could result in job losses, particularly in the countryside.

Jon Richardson, regional secretary of the Federation of Sub Postmasters, said: "It isn't helping much at the moment with trying to sell rural offices. The Government has said rural offices are protected but we are not seeing much protection.

"They've put a block on the post office doing anything to close them down but because the remuneration for running them is so small owners are closing them down themselves."

Kevin and Sue Brudenell have been trying to sell their post office and general store, which has a home attached to it, in Stutton, near Ipswich, for more than a year.

But they took it off the market after eight months when it failed to attract buyers.

Mr Brudenell was warned by housing professionals that he faced the same situation as many rural sub postmasters in that rural homes are now so valuable the attached business may not generate enough income to cover the mortgage payments.

Now Mr Brudenell believes Consignia's announcements will add to the problem and he said: "The negative publicity has to have an effect on our ability to sell."

Mr Richardson said: "It's very difficult for rural and urban postmasters at the moment. It seems to be continuous bad news from our point of view.

"The pensions payment situation is not helping. The universal bank would be a glimmer of light on the horizon but things seem to be very, very slow. The Government doesn't seem to be moving fast on the arrangements for the post office card account to enable us to continue paying pensions.

"And the possibility of putting up first class mail prices could also drive people away from using the mail, although we have noticed an increase in the volume of small packages we're handling thanks to people shopping more on the internet."


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