Village post office saved from closure

A village post office in Mid Norfolk has been saved from closure after being taken over by a campaigning rural charity.

It is believed the move by the Norfolk Rural Community Council is the first time in the country that a charity has taken on such a role – and could set a trend for the future.

Mileham's postmaster decided to retire and it had been feared that the service could be lost.

But the NRCC has now obtained the licence from Post Office Ltd and the charity's trading arm Thinking Rural CIC will now be managing the service as well as the community-owned shop in the same building.

The shop has been run by the community for the past year.

Shop managers Colin Fisher and Maxine Brown will continue to be behind the counter of the store and the post office and will be supported by a team of local volunteers.

Any profit made will be pumped back in to the community under the social enterprise initiative.

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NRCC chief executive Jon Clemo said 'This is seen to be an important part of our role in helping Norfolk's rural communities to remain sustainable and is probably a first in the country for a charity organisation.

'The Post Office in Mileham is a vital part of the social and economic fabric of the local area.

'We have been working with Post Office Ltd on a number of projects in the county and we hope that this new venture will mark a positive way forward to help retain other offices that are under threat from closure.'

Mr Clemo added: 'This support from Norfolk RCC is a part of its overall programme in supporting communities, covering access issues, community consultation, environmental, village halls, play areas and many more issues important to sustaining rural life.'

Peter Smith, from the NRCC, said: 'It means that the service is kept and it's an important service to that community because the average age is slightly older in Mileham.

'It's a busy little post office and, if they'd lost it, it would mean they'd have to go to the next village. Some would say it's not that far away but there's no public transport and not everybody has transport to get there.'