Local Post Office faces threat of closure

Local Post Office faces threat of closure
Fraser Lindsay and his post office in Dersingham

A family-run business and an important service to the village, Dersingham Post Office is facing challenges that might force the owners to close.

Dersingham Post Office has been owned by Fraser Lindsay’s family since 1979. Fraser, who has been the sub-postmaster since 2002, alongside his wife Maria, have provided the local community with useful and important services for over two decades. However, a number of occurrences in recent years have hugely impacted their small business, which now faces the threat of closure.

In September 2023, nine post workers were relocated from Dersingham Post Office to a sorting office in King’s Lynn. This decision, which was made by Royal Mail, meant that Fraser and Maria lost nearly half of the income generated by their post office. Fraser mentions how, as a small business “only just surviving”, increases in minimum wage can further exacerbate the already- challenging financial viability of his post office’s operations. Fraser employs three members of staff, so the extra cost incurred from the recent increase in the minimum wage has a significant impact on small businesses and the future of Dersingham Post Office.

‘The Post Office Scandal’ is a story that most, if not all, British households are familiar with by now. Not only was Fraser subject to failures by the IT system, but he now worries that the scandal will impact the trust that customers have in his family-run business. Fraser recognises that “people have lost trust in the Post Office brand” but wants to remind them that “the Post Office Scandal is not the sub-postmasters’ fault - we are victims as well”. He adds, “if people boycott their local post office,... it hurts the income of your local sub-postmaster who is already struggling because of expenditure going up and income going down.”

The majority of the post office’s customers are from the older generations. As the population of this demographic declines, the post office’s services are being used less and less. With the evolving digital climate offering more and more, Fraser worries that people may forget the value of choosing the in-person option for their services.

WEB Fraser outside Fraser has been sub-postmaster for 22 years

To combat the challenges they face, Dersingham Post Office needs individuals to use their services. Fraser says, “we are going to keep going as long as we can, but we need people to use the services more than ever.” Fraser and Maria are able to offer banking services for most high street banks, including personal and business banking, cash deposits and withdrawals and deposits of cheques. With local banking branches closing down, this service is even more valuable for individuals who might not be able to travel to their nearest branch. Fraser mentions how using the post office for banking services is “safe and secure”, it does not incur a charge like many ATMs, and customers are able to request any denomination of money. Dersingham Post Office can also issue holiday currencies, travel money cards and car tax, services which are also being used less: Fraser used to issue “around 300 car taxes a month”, but now this figure is just 30. Royal Mail and Parcelforce postal services are available at Dersingham Post Office, as well as it being an Amazon Pick Up and Drop Off Hub. Dersingham Post Office is open 6 days a week, with half days on Wednesdays and Saturdays (9-12:30pm).

There has been a recent influx of counterfeit stamps, as reported by the mainstream media. The stamps, which look practically identical to genuine ones, result in the recipients of the post being charged a £5 fee. To avoid purchasing fake stamps, get them from your local post office!

If Dersingham Post Office does not get enough custom, Fraser and Maria will be forced to close. Not only does Fraser not want to see his family-run business close, but he also does not want to see locals lose services that some of them rely on! Let us remember the old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” and support our local post office whilst we still can!

With fewer and fewer local services like butchers, bakers and greengrocers, would losing our post office be the final stage marking the end of local businesses altogether? We must, as Fraser says, “USE IT OR LOSE IT”.

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