An Essex post office shut down in the latest closure round has re-opened with the backing of the local council.
The post office counter in Praful Chavda’s store in Station Way, Buckhurst Hill, was closed in February, but has now re-opened after Essex County Council agreed to fund the post office operation out of its community projects budget. Praful, who has run the post office for 11 years, had feared for the rest of the shop’s viability after the counter closure, and was delighted to re-open. He said: “When we closed, a lot of customers told me how strongly they felt about it. When the opportunity to re-open came I was pleased to accept it.” The branch carries an Essex County Council fascia alongside its Londis branding as the Post Office signage has been removed, and features a free internet point detailing the council’s services. The authority has pledged £1.5m to re-open 15 of the 31 branches recently closed in the county. As many as 150 other local authorities nationwide have been in contact with the council to see if the ‘Essex Model’ could be rolled out to other parts of the country. However, National Federation of Subpostmasters general secretary George Thomson questioned whether local councils are truly committed to the post office network. “I can understand the logic of Essex County Council’s position, but the government and the Post Office have decided that we need a national network of just 12,000 branches, and the only thing that will keep them open is the volume of work going through. “Local authorities can have a more positive impact by ensuring that they put as much work as possible through branches – by using them as portals for collecting council tax, rents, bus passes and so on.”