Tynedale villages gear up for new post office van
Last updated at 08:28, Wednesday, 23 October 2013
AFTER four years of coping with an inadequate service, villagers in Tynedale could be in line for a brand new mobile post office van.
The current van has suffered a history of breakdowns, often leaving residents in the 10 villages it visits without a service for weeks on end.
On Wednesday, it returned to action following repairs when an electrical fault took it off the road for 10 days.
The Leyland DAF Maxus van – which serves the communities of Bardon Mill, Humshaugh, Fourstones, Slaley, Langley, Colwell, Ninebanks, Simonburn, Mickley and Newton – is based at Stocksfield Post Office and has been a constant challenge to keep running.
However, following the most recent breakdown, the Post Office has confirmed it is considering putting Stocksfield at the top of its list when it introduces a new fleet of vans in April.
Sub-postmaster Martin Nichol welcomed the news, which would herald the end of years at the mercy of Post Office engineers.
He said: “I would be over the moon if we were top priority for those new vans.
“I don’t know about any other post office vans in the country, but this one has not been very good at all.
“The customers have been quite put out about it, understandably so.
“The van was new when we got it, but the build quality isn’t great and it’s not just mechanical issues keeping it off the road.”
From technical faults to engine failures, it has been a bumpy ride since the van was introduced in 2009.
That summer, questions were raised over its reliability when its banking facility crashed three times in a week, and again the following May, when it was taken off the road for technical repairs.
Earlier this year, it was in the repair shop for over three weeks as engineers replaced the engine and fixed the fuel lines, brakes and steering.
However, when it came back, customers in Slaley were still left in limbo as the on-board computer, needed to carry out all transactions, was unable to sustain a strong enough wireless internet connection in the village.
Over the last two weeks it has been in and out of the engineers’ hands when a loose wire on the rear ramp, used for disability access, short circuited the power in the entire van.
Slaley parish councillor and mobile post office customer, Doreen Bell, said the Post Office risked losing customers if problems continued.
“A lot of people come down looking for it and wonder where the van is,” she explained.
“It has an affect on everyone. People who run businesses from home or send letters have had to go to Hexham at an extra cost but they will use other services if problems continue.
“It’s especially difficult for the elderly residents who rely on the van for their pensions. Without the service, and with only one return bus a day, they are losing their independence.”
A spokesman for the Post Office apologised for the inconvenience caused by the recent breakdown.
He added: “Customers may be aware that, despite the best efforts of Post Office Ltd, this is not the first time the service has been interrupted due to technical issues.
“We are planning to introduce a new fleet of vans to provide mobile Post Office services during the next financial year and upgrading this service is being considered as a priority.”
First published at 07:37, Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk
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