A town is to lose one of Derbyshire’s last remaining traditional post offices.
The privately-run office on Dale Road North, Darley Dale, now displays a sign saying it will be closed from July 9, after its owner fought a long battle to keep a post office in the town, following a run of local closures and a Matlock branch narrowly being saved from shutting its doors.
After 15 years of service, Sub-postmaster Kevin Croker says the company has changed the way it runs post offices, meaning the majority of branches will have to be run from inside other businesses.
Also a financial advisor, Mr Croker lives above the post office, which has served Darley Dale since 1999.
He said: “After five years of worry and uncertainty the Post Office have stated that our little branch is no longer a suitable place for the site of a post office.”
The post office is having to close, he added, due to changes in government policy which have seen cuts to thousands of branches.
“We could not become a community post office because there was a shop very near to us, even though they did not want it.
Now Mr Croker will have to convert the branch into some offices for commercial use.
He added: “We must be the last one in Derbyshire that is just a post office, but they don’t want traditional post offices any more.”
Government policy has changed the running of post offices so that branches are divided into main offices, Post Office Locals, run from inside shops, and community post offices which are supported by the government to serve villages where there is no other local shop.
Mr Croker added he had been petitioning for a local business to take over the service since last January.
He added: “We’ve been told we can’t carry on as a community post office, so I’ve appealed to Local 4 U because they have a counter available.
“But in September 2014 they responded saying they had presented the idea to the directors who said it doesn’t fit in with their plan,” added Mr Croker.
Darley’s Post Office not only served the local area but provided an outreach services to smaller communities in Stanton-in-the-Peak, Tansley and Elton.
Mr Croker added: “It’s a valuable service to people that can’t get out on the bus.”
Two Dales will continue to be the main Post Office for the area and provide these outreach services.
The office is having to make two people redundant and customers will now have to travel to Matlock or Two Dales, but the loss may have a silver lining as the government is spending money to improve the Crown PO on Chesterfield Road.
And residents will be sad to see the branch disappear.
Jason Atkins, who works in Darley Dale Fish Bar, said: “I’d heard a rumour that we were losing the Post Office. It’ll be a shame to see it go because a lot of people use it, and to pick up their pensions and what have you.”
The closure follows the news that Wirksworth has also lost its Post Office, and after being promised a new branch inside a refurbished shop, Co-op abandoned plans leaving the town without a service at all.
There are more than 11,500 post offices in the UK, down from around 17,000 a decade ago, and they are visited by 28 million people every week and 95 per cent of branches are operated by franchise partners or sub-postmasters.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are aware that the postmaster at Darley Dale Post Office has expressed an interest in leaving and the premises housing the branch is being withdrawn for Post Office use from July 2015.
“We would like to reassure customers that the Post Office is committed to maintaining a service in Matlock and will work hard to ensure this.
“We will be seeking alternative premises for the post office so local retailers interested in this business opportunity should contact us on 0845 266 8790 or email NTquestions@postoffice.co.uk.”