Michael Outama is chucking stones at the Post Office in the hope that it will back off the idea of modernising his one. He owns a biggish (2,500sq ft) Londis supermarket in Birmingham. He has had the business for 26 years and the post office for 11 years. Two years ago the PO approached him about converting, but he turned down the idea and they went away.

“Now they’ve come back and are saying do it, or give it up.”

His question to me was whether there was an option as he plans to sell the business and freehold in four to five years and thinks he will get a better price. He hasn’t committed to anything yet.

I replied that, from what I gathered from the programme I watched on the subject and reported on in the 28 August issue, there was not really a choice. If you have been selected for modernisation and you don’t want to do it, they will position the PO in another store/location; although there was one postmistress on the programme who declined to convert (not viable for her), but had to stay put because the PO could not find anyone else nearby to run it.

On a following email Michael wrote that his is such a good store that they will be bound to pursue their plan.

But there is an added wrinkle: “Another thing I can’t work out is they told me each office gets £45,000 towards the cost.”

But now he has been told that the sum is £22,000 and they want him to contribute about £6,000, whereas his understanding was that he should only have to contribute when the cost goes over £45K.

He concludes by chucking another stone. “I will take this up with them next time they come. My answer to the post office is ‘you want to do it, you pay for it’.”

I suggested that Michael should consult  the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters’ helpline. I also asked him if he wanted to feature in the column to see if anyone else could come up with any sort of solution, and he said yes.