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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbrian post offices to benefit from national investment

Post offices in Cumbria will be among 6,000 to be transformed as part of a £1.34 billion investment.

The biggest investment package in the network’s history was unveiled yesterday

It is part of a Government pledge not to bring in another round of branch closures, the prospects of which triggered protests across Cumbria and has been welcomed as a boost to keeping vital services in the county.

The revamp will see branches become branded either as local or main offices.

Even in those where money is not spent directly, Post Office Limited say there will be subsidy payments to maintain the roles they play in communities.

It is a move which has been endorsed by sub-postmasters in Cumbria.

Bhavna Desai, egional executive officer for the National Federation of Sub-postmasters, said: “This investment will bring significant benefits to customers, communities and businesses.

“It provides a great opportunity for thousands of sub-postmasters to modernise their post offices, creating an improved, more sustainable network.”

Sub-postmasters in Cumbria are now being urged to table their interest in converting to the new operating models.

A selection criteria will decide the most appropriate model that the branches should be converted into.

Among the early ones to benefit from change has been Oxenholme, near Kendal.

Its boss, Ben Riddell, who took over there in April 2010, says the ability through change to open longer has paid off.

He said: “We have a lot of customers who have jobs but sell on eBay in their spare time. They were put off by long queues at lunchtime, so being able to pop in first thing in the morning or after work has been a big bonus for them – and alleviated queues at peak times.”

Nationally, in the last 12 years, the Post Office has lost eight million customers.

Supporters hope the investment will make the network more attractive to customers and those operating it.

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