Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith has taken a threat to Millhouse Green Post Office to the House of Commons.
She said postmistress Wendy Marsh had been told the post office was to be downgraded, with a consequent cut in payment, which could mean the business has to close.
Ms Smith told MPs: “The business struggles to run at a profit, having to sell many other items, and opens long hours to make ends meet. Removing the salary could push the business over the edge, forcing it to close.
“This would effectively mean the village losing not only Post Office services, but the sale of daily papers, as Mrs Marsh trades as the only newsagent in the village. Indeed, she has stated repeatedly to me that if the post office is re-designated, she will be forced to close the business and with it the post office service available to the village.”
She said Post Office Counters believed the service could be transferred to another shop in the village but Ms Smith told MPs the owner of that shop was not interested.
“Despite that, the Post Office continues to insist that it will press ahead with redesignation because there is another suitable retail business nearby. If ever we had a bureaucracy with a jobsworth attitude, this is it; you really could not make it up. A premises that wants to offer post office services will close if the payment and its community status is removed; and an alternative location does not want to offer those services if the present post office ceases to operate. The consequence of all of that could be that Millhouse Green loses the service altogether.
“The cynic might think that behind all this is a ploy, not only to remove the payment from the sub-postmistress, but to close the post office altogether and to force customers to use the alternative facilities in the town of Penistone. Indeed, I have heard murmurings—I put it no stronger than that—that this problem is emerging elsewhere across my region as a result of the network transformation programme.”
Business Minister Jo Swinton said the Post Office would continue to work closely with the sub-postmistress “to make sure that the future provision of post office services for the community in Millhouse Green is secure and sustainable for the long term.”
The sub-postmistress was keen to retire at some stage and wished to sell the retail and post office business together, but did not wish to receive investment to convert to a local model. Ms Swinton said. “I also understand that she has applied to have the branch classified as a community branch, but that has been rejected because there is a suitable alternative retailer 130 metres from the branch.”
But Ms Smith said there was little interest for buying the business, particularly if payments were reduced.