In our 14 February issue I aired a non-Valentine from Harjit Singh, who felt that the PO had led him up the garden path by almost installing a post office in his premises, only to change its mind last knockings and give it to the Co-op.
This prompted Bimal Jit Mangat, who runs Mountford Stores in Wirksworth, Matlock, Derbyshire, to get in touch. He writes: “In January 2013, the post office in Wirksworth was advertised for relocation. I registered my interest. I was the only one in the town who was interested as nobody else applied for it.”
He says that all the formalities took place - the interview and presentation. In September he signed and returned the contractual agreement and then the six-week public consultation ran from 18 September until 30 October. It was decided that the work would begin on 13 December, the current post office would close on 18 December and would start functioning from 20 December.
A new BT line had been installed on 18 November and a copy of the PO’s agreement arrived with a covering letter dated 18 November.
But on 20 November this all got turned on its head. The PO informed Bimal that councillors had objected to the regulator and Bimal had no right to appeal. He got nothing in writing.
The local paper reported that the PO said that after public consultation it had decided to keep the PO in its current place.
Bimal refuted this since the current sub postmaster had retired and was running the post office on a temporary contract, which the sub postmaster confirmed ends in July.
Bimal thought he had discovered that the post office was being moved to a Co-operative forecourt which came to town a year ago, but there has been no confirmation and it remains a mystery.
He reckons he has spent about £20,000, most of which has gone on a refit.
“Since these projects are part-funded by the government on a penny to penny basis - ie match funding - why is this public money being spent to help the supermarkets and kick the small businesses?” he asks.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the relocation of Wirksworth post office to premises further out of town met with some local opposition and was rejected by our watchdog Consumer Futures. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused and (are) looking into the process followed and will contact Bimal to discuss this.”
Unfortunately, a month later Bimal has heard nothing. At the parish council AGM in April no one put their hand up to having opposed the relocation. “Everyone’s in the dark,” concludes Bimal.