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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Poor broadband signal means no temporary Post Office in Keswick

A Post Office closure is causing a headache for pensioners wanting to get their hands on cash.

Roger Purkiss photo
Roger Purkiss

People who use the branch in Keswick will have to go to Threlkeld or Borrowdale for the next fortnight after plans to open a temporary service in the town during a refit were thwarted.

Keswick’s post master Roger Purkiss had formally asked Post Office chiefs to provide a mobile facility outside the branch in Main Street throughout the improvements, which forced it to close at 5pm on Wednesday. It will not re-open until 1pm on Friday July 18.

But tests found the broadband signal required to operate a temporary facility from a vehicle at that site is not good enough.

So customers will either have to go to Threlkeld or down to Stonethwaite near Rosthwaite to the two nearest post offices, or make the longer journey to Cockermouth for full facilities.

Mr Purkiss, who has run Keswick’s Post Office for more than 20 years, apologised but stressed that almost all other services apart from pensions and cash withdrawals would be available from the general shop which it shares the town centre premises with.

This includes handling letters, parcels and all mailing services as well as most bill payments and passport and driving licence applications but not renewals. Keswick Bueau de Change will also remain open.

The biggest problem though is that customers won’t be able to use the post office’s cash machine or withdraw money from accounts or collect their pensions at Keswick – a situation that is likely to cause some people major headaches.

Mr Purkiss, 67, is retiring and handing over to his deputy Andrew Bezuszko when the post office re-opens. Mr Purkiss said: “I am very sorry for the inconvenience but we have tried to be as helpful as we can and we will be doing the best we can.

“They (the Post Office) brought a van on Wednesday to do tests to get a signal which it needs to operate but they said it wasn’t strong enough and they decided it wasn’t possible.

“They tried it in three locations: outside the post office, behind Bryson’s and in Booths car park but they didn’t get a proper signal for their vehicle. When they go around villages, they have something like a line installed which they can plug into. They needed an aerial signal here.

“We have done our best. The Post Office will be really good when it is finished.”

A Post Office spokeswoman said they were sorry for any inconvenience and added: “Our team tested a mobile Post Office van in various locations in Keswick and regrettably were unable to get a reliable signal. We are very sorry about this.”

Keswick Post Office serves around 4,000 customers a week, providing a range of services including post, personal banking, pensions and council tax payments.

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