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Baildon Post Office shut by ‘too short’ counter
A town centre post office has closed because its counters are not wide enough to meet new rules and regulations, says its upset owner.
Just a missing ten inches means landlord Kareem Sweiss has been unable to sell the shop on Westgate, Baildon, to people keen to carry on the 30-year-old business, he said.
New rules in Post Office contracts insist counters must be at least 1.5m long – and the shop cannot be altered to squeeze that in, Mr Sweiss explained to customers in a letter put on the door when it closed on Friday.
“Unfortunately the counters at Baildon Post Office do not meet the new criteria laid down.
“The counters are approximately ten inches too short and we have insufficient space for new ones,” wrote Mr Sweiss.
“I have been negotiating to sell the post office for the past 18 months and have had three extremely keen buyers, but now I’ve just reached breaking point,” Mr Sweiss said yesterday.
“I’ve been in tears over the weekend.
“I’ve absolutely loved the spirit of goodwill in Baildon since I took over the business five years ago.
“One pensioner comes in every day just to buy a single second class stamp – it’s full of elderly people who pop in for a bit of human contact.
“But the business has really struggled and I’ve been operating it at a loss for over a year and simply cannot carry on any longer.
“This has had a devastating effect on me financially and it has also taken an even greater toll on my health,” he admitted.
Mr Sweiss initially ran the post office but recently he employed someone on his behalf.
His farewell letter ends: “I have tried to keep Baildon Post Office operating for the loyal people of Baildon for as long as possible and it is with sad regret that I have had to close.
“This will be permanent if the Post Office do not come to their senses. I am truly sorry for the inconvenience this will cause.”
And yesterday morning retired teacher Ann Patterson was one of many customers standing in disbelief outside the locked shop.
“I can’t believe it. This will make life terribly inconvenient for so many people, particularly pensioners.
“They can’t close it, it’s too important!” said Mrs Patterson, a Baildon resident since 1966.
Shipley MP Philip Davies was asked for help by Mr Sweiss and has written to the Post Office and to the Government’s Business Secretary Vince Cable to try and solve the problem.
He said: “He appears to be in an impossible situation in that he has potential buyers, but can’t sell it because the Post Office have changed the regulations.
“It defies common sense and would be totally unacceptable if people were denied this post office which is so valuable to the community.”
Town council chair Chris Flecknoe said she and other councillors were worried at the prospect of losing “an absolutely vital service”
“We are all very concerned and very much want a post office to continue in the town centre,” she said.
A Post Office spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to our customers for the sudden closure of the Baildon Post Office.
“This is due to the premises been withdrawn for Post Office use.
“We are doing everything possible to find a suitable alternative service for the community as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, customers can access services at Shipley Post Office, Station Road.”
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