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Post Office seeks buyer for Farncombe branch, reigniting hopes that it will reopen; Residents are hoping that Farncombe Post Office will reopen soon.

Byline: Ann Yip

A Post Office advert looking for a retailer to purchase its franchise in Farncombe has given residents renewed hope that the branch could reopen in the future.

Residents and politicians have been calling for former postmasterChirag Sidhpura to be reinstatedsince the Post Office shut on October 10 in 2017.

The closure came after allegations that the company's Horizon software had a bug, which could lead to incorrect accounts.

Petitions calling for Simran's Convenience Store's Post Office to be reopenedreceived more than 1,000 signatureslast year. While the company has always insisted the closure is temporary, there have been fears locally that it may not reopen in the foreseeable future.

But now a buyer is being sought for the branch at 20 Farncombe Street, according toan adverton the Post Office's website runapostoffice.co.uk.

Post Office headlines

The advert reads: "Post Office Ltd is looking for a successful retailer to either purchase the current business or incorporate a Post Office Local into their existing or proposed business.

"The offer available in this Post Office would be: Post Office Local -- integrating Post Office services into a vibrant and sustainable retail business, so they can be offered over the same opening hours. The exact layout and design will be agreed with you to suit your business."

The closing date has been set for April 17, 2019 but the website states that the advert "may close early if sufficient interest is registered".

Earlier this year, following a meeting with Mr Sidhpura on February 9, Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, said the treatment of the postmaster by the Post Office Ltd was "grossly unfair and unjust".

But Eleanor Shaikh, 50, of Hare Lane, who set up one of the petitions in support of Mr Sidhpura, in March said there is a "slim hope" that the Post Office may be allowed to reopen.

She said: "The way he's been treated by the Post Office, it is atrocious.

Community calls for post office master to be reinstated six months after Farncombe branch was closed

"At one point, there was no hope. There is a tiny possibility that something may be allowed."

When asked to comment on the advert and whether Farncombe Post Office will be reopening soon, a spokesman said the Post Office did not wish to add to its statement from November last year.

The spokesman reissued a statement: "We understand and appreciate how much communities rely on our services and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by this temporary closure of Farncombe Post Office.

"We are committed to providing a Post Office in Farncombe and we are working hard to restore Post Office services to the area as soon as possible. In the meantime, customers can find Post Office services nearby including at our Godalming and Shalford branches."

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Surrey Advertiser

Former Farncombe postmaster Chirag and Rushita Sidhpura at the local branch which is now closed

Credit: Darren Pepe

Simran's Convenience Store

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Publication:Get Surrey (Surrey, England)
Date:May 30, 2018
Words:494
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