New scheme puts Upper Beeding post office at risk of closure

Tracey Bognar, sub-postmaster at Upper Beeding Post Office, which may face closure D14201951a
Tracey Bognar, sub-postmaster at Upper Beeding Post Office, which may face closure D14201951a

A village post office is facing the threat of closure under new financial pressures from the company’s head office.

Upper Beeding Post Office’s sub-postmaster Tracy Bognar says she may have to close the High Street branch as new rules are set to make it ‘financially unviable’.

She says a scheme the Post Office calls ‘a major investment programme’ designed to modernise branches and extend opening hours, is putting the future of the branch at risk, despite a commitment to ‘no more permanent branch closure programmes’.

Under the new system, Upper Beeding and other post offices of its size will see some funding withdrawn, and will be expected to make up the shortfall through retail.

Tracey says her branch is too small to make up the difference through sales and she could have no choice but find another premises or close altogether.

“It feels like the Post Office has this pot of money but only for other branches,” said Tracey.

“We are angry. Lots of us feel upset and all of us have different reasons.

“I have only been here for just over a year and there was no mention of it when I went for my interview. They must have known then.

“Our village needs its post office, it’s the hub of the community.”

Tracey said she had no idea when the money would stop or what the future would hold, only that the firm had written to her to say it would be in touch within the next six months.

A Post Office spokesman said: “We know how important having a post office is to residents in the village and we want to keep a post office in Upper Beeding.

“We are working with sub-postmasters to help them to develop the retail side of the businesses at their current or a new location, or for the current sub-postmaster to give up their Post Office and to receive compensation if the branch relocates to a suitable new operator at new premises.”

On Thursday the Post Office announced the launch of its £20million ‘Community Branch Fund’ to help secure the long-term future of branches in remote villages that may be the last shop in the community.

But Upper Beeding post Office will see none of this money as it is classified as a ‘local’ branch.