It isn’t just the neighbours who have caused the impending closure of a village Post Office in one of the priciest neighbourhoods in Croydon.
As was first reported by Inside Croydon this week, TV presenter Laura Hamilton and husband Alex Goward, who took over the Lord Roberts on the Green on the Webb Estate last year, are threatening to close the Post Office after a planning application for a shed in the garden was rejected by the council.
But according to business manager Indianna Scorziello, the decision has also been influenced by the tough terms and conditions of business laid down by the Post Office.
“Village Post Offices have been closing at an alarming rate,” Scorziello said.
“The reason for this is due to the Post office radically changing its payment structure, which has unfortunately made it financially unviable to run a Post Office as a standalone business.
“Our goal and commitment to the community when we set up the business was to fund the losses incurred running the post office with a percentage of the profits generated from our successful and unique coffee shop. Unfortunately as the Post Office continued to change its payment structure to the detriment of small village post offices, the losses experienced in running the post office were soon to exceed profits from our coffee shop.
“As we were still committed to keeping the post office, we needed another income stream to support it. Therefore six months ago, we built a ‘shed’ measuring 4m x 3m which replaced a derelict garage on the site which was twice the size. This ‘shed’ was to be used for additional Post Office storage and also for other community fund-raising activities, such as a Santa’s Grotto, whereby we were donating money to local schools and charities. The plan was also to rent out the shed to other groups to generate additional income to support the post office.
“Unfortunately, due to a few local residents in the immediate vicinity objecting to this structure, the council declined the retrospective planning permission.
“This is especially disappointing considering the council went against conservation planning guidelines and objectives from the majority of Webb Estate residents not to subdivide plots and build block of flats within the Webb Estate conservation area.”
Scorziello says that the Lord Roberts management team is “currently undecided as to our next steps” over the future of the post office.
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Sounds like the Post Office, like John Major`s old lady on a bicycle, is about to cycle off into the sunset.