Subpostmasters on the Isle of Wight have voted to form an independent business association in an attempt to safeguard the future of dozens of branches.
The move was prompted by fears that 35 of the island's 52 post offices are under threat. The IOW branch of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters is to consider negotiating a new contract with Royal Mail, but it was adamant the move did not mean it was looking to declare total independence. It will, however, consider proposals such as setting up its own collection, sorting and delivery service.
Secretary of the island branch, Rodney Archer, who runs two offices on the island in Sandown and Chale, said: "The independent business association has been set up as a self- help group and is a number of strongly independent postmasters coming together to secure their futures. We are not breaking away from the Royal Mail but there are opportunities to negotiate new contracts.
"The island having its own separated postboxes would bring to an end the ridiculous and environmentally unfriendly practice of mail being taken to Portsmouth, Guildford or Reading to be sorted and then brought back. If there is to be a major cull of rural post offices then we are simply doing what we can to survive."