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Derbyshire folk furious after village's Post Office is 'forced' to close

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Derbyshire folk furious after village's Post Office is 'forced' to close

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https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/l ... es-7408271

Locals say they worry for elderly people who were reliant on the branch

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Vernon Hunt is one of a group of residents who used to run the village's Post Office from the local cafe (Image: Adam Toms)

Residents of a small picturesque Derbyshire village have expressed their anger and frustration after their Post Office was "forced" to close.

The branch in Holbrook, near Belper, used to be managed by a community group of volunteers that also oversees the village’s pub and cafe. But after a dispute with Post Office headquarters regarding the running costs of their branch, the village's residents have found themselves without an essential local service.

This comes after it was "forced" to close on July 22 due to, the group says, impossible running costs, staffing issues, and inflexibility from the Post Office after it refused to grant the branch permission to operate on a part-time basis to save cash.

The high running costs involved, they claim, began eating into the profits of their other community projects. Vernon Hunt, 73, a member of the 11-strong community board, said: “It involved a lot of soul searching but at the end of the day the closure was down to simple financial logistics.

“We asked Post Office what they could do for us, and they gave us nothing. For example they refused to let us go part-time instead of five days a week.”

Christian Limb, another community hub director, said: “The Post Office contract didn’t pay for any members of staff, and we were finding the increasing costs unviable.

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The main road through Holbrook where residents used to find their Post Office (Image: Adam Toms)

“There’s the staffing side as well. It takes a long time to train a member of staff. We had two trained but both moved to other jobs because they had a lot of holiday owing.

“It’s a big undertaking and there’s a lot of relationship building that needs to happen as people in there need to be trustworthy. People having to journey to other Post Offices further afield is not ideal.

“But we have run the branch here since 2018 using the same members of staff. Two retired and two left. With no staff, we were left with no option.”

As a result of the closure, villagers are worried that more senior people who used the Post Office will be left struggling.

Susan Osbourne, a retired bank cashier who has lived in the village for 40 years, said: “I don’t use it very often, I’m having to stay at home and care for my husband after he took ill. But I know people do use it.

“I have a friend who uses it quite a bit, for pensions and things like that. It’s a shame it’s going - a lot of people do use it. There are quite a lot of elderly people who live here and buses run not very often to the Co-op in Belper, the nearest Post Office branch.”

This comes as it was announced by Lloyds last month that it would be closing its branch in Belper, the town’s last bank. Susan added: “It’s so sad. I was in banking. Everything’s changing, isn’t it?”


A local shopkeeper in one of the village's small newsagents, who preferred not to be named, said: “I heard rumours that it might be closing - they announced it two days before. It’s just the older people who I worry for who will now have to get on a bus and go somewhere else.”

A woman passing by the former Post Office, who was in a bit of a hurry and did not want to give her name, said: “Yes, I don’t know very much about it because we’ve been away and when we came back it was closed.


“I used it when it was a Post Office, I shall miss it. It’s a real shame. They’ve also reduced the bus service so people, especially more elderly people, will struggle to get to a Post Office in Belper.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Holbrook Post Office has been closed since July 22 due to the resignation of the postmaster due to staffing issues. We apologise for the short notice of this closure. We are working hard to restore Post Office service to the area as soon as possible. In the interim alternative branches include Kilburn, Belper, Little Eaton and Duffield.”
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