Published: 08:50, 23 October 2019
| Updated: 08:51, 23 October 2019
A postmaster fears his business could close if plans to convert a Post Office into a 'local-style' branch goes ahead.
Grant Peakall, who runs the Post Office in Dymchurch, says his contract with the company is under threat after they announced their intentions to downgrade the current, traditional store and have a counter-only one instead, which would operate alongside another business.
This could either be in Mr Peakall's current shop, or in another in the town.
But Mr Peakall says if he changed to one of these 'local' contracts his business would not be viable, as he would receive a lower fee from the Post Office.
And if the contract was taken away from him all together, he would lose his £50,000 investment that he put into the business when he took over nine years ago.
As a result, the shop could potentially close by October next year, when his current lease is up.
Mr Peakall said: "It's not that I want to go, they want to take it off me.
"There are only about 500 traditional Post Offices left in the UK. The Post Office want to convert them to 'local' branches.
"This would see them taking it off me and putting it in a convenience shop, or alike. It would then just be a counter.
"Imagine you buy a Post Office business for £50,000 - on the basis you will sell it on when you are due to retire, like I planned - and then suddenly Post Office Ltd tell you no, you can't sell it on, and by the way, if another retailer wants it you will lose it and get saddled with the cost of your remaining lease, without compensation.
"As my current lease runs out in October 2020, and PO Ltd refuses to give me any commitment for the future, nothing is certain.
"There is a simple solution - Post Office Ltd removes the threat of taking away the Post Office from me and allows traditional Subpostmasters to sell on upon retirement on the traditional contract."
Customers have now started a campaign to save the Post Office, with MP Damian Collins also asking to meet with Mr Peakall to discuss the future.
Mr Peakall adds: "Local people don't want this to happen either and customers are backing us all the way.
"If this went ahead then the Post Office would end up in a shop which isn't suitable; it would be smaller and customers would be queuing out the door.
"We're doing a lot of banking at the moment and this would affect elderly customers."
"I have been offered a meeting with the MP and I am waiting to here from him."
A Post Office spokesman said: "We know how important a Post Office is to a community.
"We are committed to maintaining a Post Office in Dymchurch.
"The Post Office wants to secure the long term viability of our services in Dymchurch.
"We are looking for a suitable replacement operator with premises who can offer a viable retail business alongside the Post Office."
Mr Peakall added: "They say this, but my business is viable as it stands."
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More by this authorSam Williams