Store-owner could take on post office

STORE-owner Scott Stroud could become the new operator of Barnham Post Office – thanks to the Bognor Regis Observer.

Mr Stroud is to be visited by Post Office officials to see if his business of Barnham Trading Post is suitable to take on the extra service.

He also has to formally apply for the business.

But Mr Stroud is raring to go to preserve what he called an essential service. “We are prepared to put ourselves out and do what is needed to get the post office here.

“We have car parking, it’s easy to get in and out of and we have an office right in the middle of our ground floor which would be perfect for a post office,” he said.

But his interest looked to be finished until he spoke to the Observer this week.

A call from the newspaper to the press office at Post Office Ltd sparked a return call an hour later. Mr Stroud’s details were requested. A flurry of activity followed.

He said on Tuesday: “I’ve had three phone calls from the Post Office this morning. They are looking into the matter and getting someone to come out on a site visit.

“I’m definitely going to apply to take on the post office. It’s just a matter of waiting for the visit.”

Mr Stroud is one of three directors of the family-run Barnham Trading Post on Barnham Road.

They opened the retail 
hub on an adjoining site 
13 years ago and moved into their present two-storey premises in 2002.

It is the biggest retailer in Barnham, with 7,000sq ft of ground-floor selling space and 3,500sq ft upstairs.

More than 40 full and part-time employees work there and handle 6,000 transactions a week. Outside is a car park of 50 spaces.

The premises are only 100 yards along the road from the existing post office.

Post Office Ltd recently advertised for a new operator for the service. Mr Stroud answered, but failed to get a reply. He queried this and got a curt email saying his services were not required.

He contacted the Observer because he feared the post office would close.

“The post office gives 
the village its traditional feel,” he said. “It’s important it’s kept open.”

That view was echoed by Barnham Parish Council chairman Cllr David Phillips. He said: “The post office is a vital part of the shopping centre of Barnham.

“It plays an important role in that commercial heart of the village and helps to keep it as a living community rather than just a dormitory.”

A Post Office spokeswoman said the existing sub-postmaster at Barnham had opted out of major changes being made to the network.

Mr Stroud’s original bid was too late, but the expected operator had since declined.

“We have been in touch with Mr Stroud to update him of the situation and to advise him the opportunity will be re-advertised very soon for him and anyone else to apply,” she said.