Crucial talks needed to protect Post Office

The Spar in Longhoughton.
The Spar in Longhoughton.

Crunch talks will take place in a desperate bid to save Longhoughton’s vital Post Office service, amid concerns that it will be lost, at least in the short-term.

It comes as the Spar shop, on North End, is due to shut at the end of April after the firm’s parent company, ISS, decided the store was no longer viable.

The building is also home to the village Post Office, as well as hairdressers, Haircrew. The property is owned by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and leased to ISS and the salon.

And at Monday night’s Longhoughton Parish Council meeting, Simon Buist, from RAF Boulmer, said that the Post Office could close in May as a result. But he also told members that the village’s Co-operative store could hold the key to retaining the service.

He said: “The Spar is due to close at the end of April, but the lease for the hairdressers will continue in the building. There has been some interest in the property, but nothing has materialised yet. As far as the MoD is concerned, if no one comes forward, the building will probably be put on the market in due course.

“If nobody comes forward to run the Post Office – which is crucial to the whole community – then it will close in early May. I spoke with the Co-op informally last week and I got the feeling that taking the Post Office on would be something they would be interested in pursuing. I suggest the community and perhaps the parish council liaises with the Co-op. We would support you.”

Council chairman Bryan Ellis agreed. He said: “I am very happy to represent the local population and say to the Co-op that there is a need for this facility in the village. If the Post Office does close, we could expect that it could be 12 months before it reopened, if the Co-op did take it on – but that is their decision – because they’d have to train their staff.”

He suggested contacting organisations to see if a weekly mini bus could be put on to transport villagers to Lesbury Post Office, if Longhoughton’s closes.