The Oundle Post Office provides a vital service for our community, but in 2016 it will be moving from its current location. It will continue to provide the same services, but instead of having its own building, it will be sharing the counter with another shop.
Kam and Mick Patel, who are behind the post office counter and run it with their father Rashik said: ‘In the short term the privatisation of the Post Office makes no difference whatsoever to them and that nobody noticed the change’.
But even though it is business as usual at the moment in the Oundle Post Office, across the UK the situation is ‘very unstable’. Out of the current 11,500-strong post office network, it is estimated that only 3000 will survive the cull when the 1.34bn pounds of subsidy support from the government runs out this year.
The Post Office is now completely independent and the Oundle Post Office is working as an agent contracted to Post Office Ltd, on behalf of the Royal Mail. However, this contract expires in the coming year.
Many traditional branches are turning into what are known as ‘locals’ and ‘mains’, meaning they are sharing the floor space with a shop, and this is what will eventually happen to the Oundle Post Office.
Kam Patel said: “This time next year, we will be moving.’ Their current premises will be rented out to another retailer.
Exactly where the Oundle Post Office will end up is unknown. ‘The Post Office Ltd will decide,’ he said.
What is known is that the host shop has to generate enough independent income and maintain enough footfall to sustain the continued activity of the post office in Oundle.
In the meantime, Mick has submitted a conditional resignation as Postmaster, but will continue to work in the current post office until a new operator has been found. There is a possibility that both Mick and Kam will continue to work at the new post office, but that will depend on the new operator.
For now the Oundle Post Office will continue to provide its invaluable services to the local community. Although it is uncertain exactly where they will be located in the future, post office services, which have been provided by the Patel family for 27 years, will it is hoped, continue to be offered in Oundle.
By Thomas Dudley