STAFF at rural post offices were celebrating yesterday after the Government awarded them the Card Account which distributes benefits to millions of claimants.
Cheshire rural post offices which escaped closure in March feared the worst when a private company bid for the account. Without it post offices across the area would see a dramatic drop in custom with an expected 3,000 closures across the UK.
Mandy Geall, postmistress at Burwardsley Post Office, said: “Common sense has prevailed. We escaped closure last year but feared the worst for the Card Account. It is a vital service for many.
“I have been waiting to hear about the Card Account because I was planning to train somebody up, but without the card account there would be little point. It’s fantastic news.”
Tattenhall postmistress Val Moon said it was really good news for the village.
She said: “It keeps everybody going. We have been concerned about it, and have wondered what it would mean for us if we lost it. It is excellent news for the community because the post office is a very central part of the village.”
Maurice Butterworth, from Tarvin Post Office, said the Card Account will keep people coming into the post office and into the shop.
He said: “We are obviously very happy about it. It has been a concern for us like many rural post offices.”
“Post offices have had a hard time of it recently and it is nice to hear some good news.”
A Tarporley Post Office spokesman said: “It is the logical step to make to award us the Card Account because we have the infrastructure for it, we have used it and know it, and our customers know to come to us to use it.”
Eddisbury MP Stephen O’Brien said he was delighted that a Government U-turn would ensure the survival of many Chester outlets.
He said: “This service is an absolute lifeline for many for the provision of services in rural areas as well as for village communities.
“It is the people who have gone into the post offices who have sent me protest cards expressing their view that the Card Account should stay with the Post office who have made the difference.”
He added: “The ministers must have been inundated with these cards, and that is what has made the Government realise this service is vital for many communities.”