The Yorkshire Dales Post Office run by locals fighting closures in the region

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The Post Office in the Yorkshire Dales’s small market town of Hawes runs at a loss of thousands of pounds - and things are going just swimmingly.

Following a significant decline in branches across the National Park area over the years, the Upper Dales Community Partnership (UCDP) took the service over in 2014.

Coun John Blackie outside Hawes Post Office.

Coun John Blackie outside Hawes Post Office.

North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie is now its subpostmaster, and says that the community office it is homed in has jumped from having a footfall of 35,000 annually to 100,000 people after incorporating the Post Office and since the closure of a HSBC bank branch.

He said: “When I started as a county councillor 21 years ago, unbelievably, in the Upper Dales...it was served by 13 sub-Post Offices and Post Offices. All of those have closed other than Hawes, Reeth and Thoralby.

“It has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk. In 20 years from 13 places it went down to three.

“We would have lost Hawes but for us stepping in to take the service in 2014.

“There has been a great reduction in the network but thank God we saved Hawes. The alternative was a very inferior mobile service a couple of times a week or a 36- to 40-mile trip to go to the nearest branch.”

However, the UDCP also took over Bainbridge and Askrigg services on a part-time basis, meaning the area actually now has five services.

Coun Blackie said: “Of course, subsequently the HSBC closed in Hawes [in October three years ago] so we only have a bank three days a week. The Post Office stepped in again.”

He added: “The Post Office [Ltd] would have been happy to just supply a two-day-a-week mobile service because it saves them money - they don’t make money out of rural Post Offices.

“For us, it was hugely important to hang on and we do it in the community office but we lost money doing it - but we see it as an essential service that falls in with our remit to provide local access...for the benefit of local people.”

It is also important for tourism purposes because there is only a small number of cash machines in town and a number of shops cannot afford chip and pin machines, so the Post Office can provide much-needed cash.

“If those cash machines break down, they come into the Post Office - they provide an essential services to the local economy and you can have queues out the door, particularly in the summer time,” Coun Blackie said.

It provides jobs for one full-time and two part-time employees.

The UDCP has a turnover of £2m, helped along by its ownership of the local petrol station and the Little White Bus service.

“The loss here is in the order of about £5,000. If it was not for the surplus, eventually we would have to close up shop.”

Coun Blackie said that post goes all over the world from the town.

Eastern European employees who work at the Wensleydale Creamery send parcels and money to their families back in Poland and Latvia, while many in the Dales also have relations in Australia who they send to.

Coun Blackie said: “We are so proud of our Post Office and Community Partnership.”