CENTRAL Devon MP Mel Stride visited Ashburton Post Office last week for a meeting with sub-postmaster Stuart Rogers and Post Office Banking Director Martin Kearsley. At the top of their agenda was the closure of Buckfastleigh Post Office.

With the Buckfast branch in close proximity, there is not the local footfall to sustain both branches. But Stuart hopes to provide an outreach service in the town centre to serve those who are unable to travel to the branch in Buckfast, now run by Joanna Thuel – his former apprentice at Ashburton. 

The service will need funding and Mr Stride agreed to write to Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP and senior officials in the Post Office to see how this could be sourced.

During their meeting Stuart updated Mel on progress with The Ashburton Hub – an initiative within the post office branch that will provide a range of banking services to local residents and businesses but with any profits going back into local communities within Dartmoor. Building work on the project is expected to start next month.

Stuart said: ‘The vast majority of Post Office customers in Buckfastleigh will be served brilliantly by Joanna at her new home in Buckfast. But residents with mobility problems and no access to transport may struggle to make the journey. 

‘If I can provide an outreach service this will benefit these residents as well as many local businesses. ”

Mr Kearsley joined the meeting to support the goal of delivering an outreach service to Buckfastleigh but also to brief Mr Stride on concerns about anti money laundering regulations that limit the amount of cash that customers can pay into bank accounts via the Post Office in one go. 

‘This forces customers, mostly businesses, to drive to their nearest bank, which is often significantly further away, costing time and money and staff driving longer distances with potentially thousands of pounds in cash in their car.

Mr Stride said: ‘I will gladly explore how we might be able to source funding for an outreach service to Buckfastleigh and I am grateful for Martin’s input on cash limits.’