Post offices

Post Office chairman promises 'changes'

Responding to today's judgment against the Post Office, its chairman Tim Parker said:

While the judgment does recognise improvements we have made and that our current Horizon system is robust relative to comparable systems, it makes findings about previous versions of the system and past behaviours which further demonstrate the importance of the changes we must make in our business, particularly the ways in which we support our postmasters. Importantly, our new CEO has made clear the need to reset our relationship with postmasters and started the process to build a much better relationship with them.

Chief executive Nick Read added:

The task ahead is to improve, be clear about our direction and purpose, and to give all of those who work for and with us the guidance and support they need to help us build a Post Office fit for the future, serving in communities throughout the UK.

Rural pressure 'convinced' bank to reverse plan to end cash withdrawals

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

A Northumberland MP says pressure from people in the county helped convince Barclays to scrap plans to stop cash withdrawals in post offices.

The bank had wanted to end the service for customers, but opponents said it would leave people in rural communities without a way of accessing cash.

Hexham Conservative MP Guy Opperman met Barclays managers and gathered a 650-signature petition to protest against the plan.

He says the bank's rethink is welcome.

Guy Opperman
PA Media

Serving pints and pensions - post office in Dorset pub

"The pub still looks like a pub, and the post office is a bit like your living room".
A Bere Regis pub is serving customers with a full postal service alongside the pints from a new Post Office service now situated in the pub.

Janette Woodhouse, who runs the Royal Oak at Bere Regis in Dorset has moved the village post office service next to the bar to ensure its long-term survival with support from rural pubs organisation, Pub is The Hub. She was also able to apply for a grant of £3,000 from their Community Services Fund to support the cost of refurbishing an area in the pub for the installation of the counter. 

She told BBC Radio Solent's Laurence Herdman, "rent was increasing and the way people use services was changing. If it hadn't been for Reg (Clarke) who was assigned to us for our area we would never have spoken to somebody in Post Office and we would have closed - he instigated the whole process and he pushed and he pushed and he pushed. However, I definitely couldn’t have done all this without all the support from the local community, they have been amazing.”

Janette has been running the 16th century coaching inn on West Street for just over six years, catering for the local community and visitors with food, drink and accommodation. For the last four years she has also been the local post mistress, operating from a shop about 100 yards further up the village high street. 

She said, "I still keep threatening to come down in my dressing gown and curlers to serve them!"
 
The village of Bere Regis has a population of around 1800 residents and like most rural areas is struggling to keep essential services going. When a threat to the post office service emerged, Janette decided to take it under her wing by moving it lock, stock and barrel into the pub. 

She told BBC Radio Solent: "It's invaluable. We have one bus a day out of here and it only goes to Dorchester  and we have an elderly community as most villages do."
 
The Post Office in the pub also has a printing and copying service with two lap tops available for use by customers and the community. There is a large smart TV which can be used as a visual aid for local information, presentations or meetings and many customers have already started combining their visit to the Post Office with a coffee morning in the pub.

Reg Clarke, the south west regional advisor for Pub is The Hub added: “Janette not only supports the Bere Regis community with her pub, restaurant, letting bedrooms and now the Post Office, she also helps two other nearby villages by delivering an outreach postal service to them – she is a true community champion. Janette truly has the interests of her community at heart and I’m pleased that we could help her to locate all (most) of these services under one roof. We wish her and Bere Regis well in this new venture.”