Residents of Tysoe and 18 surrounding villages are celebrating the success of a battle to save their post office from closure.
Postmistress Lilian Hopkins, who has run the service for 38 years, was faced with closure not only of the post office but the florist and gift shop that run alongside it, to accommodate new Post Office rules.
Her daughter Jacqui Franklin co-ordinated the fight to retain the facility, creating a business plan and a financial assessment to satisfy the criteria for retaining the post office.
“The Post Office is looking at all post offices in its ‘network transformation’,” she said.
“We wanted to be what they call a ‘local post office’. But we were told our footfall was not high enough and we wouldn’t meet the financial turnover targets which needed to be ‘thousands’ a week.”
The community decided it would fight for the post office, which acts as a bank for the residents not only of Tysoe, but 18 surrounding villages from Shutford towards Shipston, Stratford and Kineton.
Next to the village store, the post office incorporates a florist and gift shop and employs five people.
“People come and get their cash and spend it in the village at the shop, hairdresser, butcher’s and cafe. If this post office closed there would be a huge gap from Ettington to Banbury,” said Mrs Franklin.
Villagers set up a petition, engaged the local media and set up a Facebook page to show their opposition to the loss of a valuable community facility.
“Our MP Nadhim Zawahi, and Victoria Prentis, the MP for the Banbury villages that use the post office, were both very supportive.
“The post office extended the deadline and we prepared a financial assessment and submitted our report. I also had to write a business plan showing how the business would change and evolve. And on August 19 we got a letter saying we had passed the financial assessment and would be able to continue as a post office. People from Tysoe and other villages have been incredibly positive, popping their head around the door to congratulate us.”
Mrs Franklin said closure would have meant redundancy for the five people in the post office, florist and gift shop.
Nadhim Zahawi, MP said: “It is a vital local service, important not just to Tysoe, but to many villages nearby. Many people contacted me about the threat of closure and we all wanted to keep such an important community asset in the village. That’s what we’ve managed to achieve.
“Maintaining rural services is crucial; they are social hubs that keep the community together and are important to businesses.”
Tysoe’s post office has been in existence since 1866.
The Post Office said: “Around 8,000 branches will transform with longer hours to make it easier for customers and help create a Post Office financially sustainable in its own right. This is not a closure programme.”