‘Hub’ solution to postal problem?

pat  Darley Post Office.  (140326M3b)
pat Darley Post Office. (140326M3b)
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Plans are being formed to provide a part-time outreach Post Office service in Darley following the closure of the village store.

The parish council is working with representatives of Post Office Ltd (POL) to find suitable premises in which to host the service.

Although plans are still at a very early stage following the closure of the Post Office service in January, it is anticipated that the outreach service in Darley will be up and running by June.

POL’s field change adviser Mick Renshaw attended a meeting of Darley and Menwith Parish Council on February 23, which was also attended by five local residents, to begin discussions about when and where the service would operate.

Sue Welch, clerk to the parish council, said: “POL and the council are supportive of establishing an outreach Post Office service, and the council hopes it will be possible to extend it with additional services such as refreshments and/or a basic shop to start to form a community hub.

“Longer term, if there is community involvement, then more could be done.”

Mr Renshaw said: “Darley Post office closed in January when the last operator resigned from the position.

“It’s a temporary closure and we are now advertising for someone to offer an outreach service.

“We perceive this as a service to the community rather than a commercial opportunity. There are no other retailers in Darley so the outreach service is about getting the Post Office back in to the village.

“We are looking to reinstate the service in Darley a couple of times a week in a premises yet to be decided upon. It’s very early stages at this point but I would hope to get something back in Darley by June.”

POL are inviting current postmasters from the local area to apply to operate the outreach service, with an application deadline of March 18.

The services provided will be the same as those offered by the operator at their main location, including cash deposits and withdrawals, foreign exchange to order, pensions, and posting of letters and parcels.

Installation and ongoing costs will be borne by POL, but it would not pay other costs, such as towards building
improvements and heating.

Mr Renshaw said suggestions for possible locations had already been put forward and he would now be looking at their feasibility.

He added: “It would need to be pretty central in the village and tick all the boxes for our criteria.

“For outreach services we typically look at using village halls and community centres where there is also something going on like coffee mornings which the public have access to.”

Mr Renshaw stressed the closure of the Post Office service in Darley would only be temporary, despite reports in the media this week that some communities in Yorkshire have been waiting for as long as seven years for their local Post Office services to recommence after supposedly temporary closures.

“When ever a branch closes like Darley, it’s never a permanent closure,” he said.

“With the best will in the world, we want to see these services come back after branches close but, ultimately, it depends on finding somebody to run it or a location for it.

“However, having been to Darley and spoken to the parish council, I’m in no doubt that we will get a solution in the village.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that people in Darley have got the appetite for it.”