Post office shut for weeks

Balcombe post office
Balcombe post office

The manager of Balcombe post office has been ‘embarrassed’ that the hard won service has been out of action for nearly two weeks.

An ‘outreach’ post office branch has been run from a room in Balcombe Stores, in Haywards Heath Road, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, for the past few years after the village post office closed in January 2010.

But the office’s IT system went down after a power cut on Thursday July 3 and it has not been working since.

This has meant, as well as the loss of usual post office services, residents have not been able to collect cash and pensioners have not be able to pick up their pensions.

Marion Goodman, manager of the outreach office, said colleagues have called the system’s helpdesk about 20 times since Friday July 4.

She said two engineers have come out to look at the issue and neither have managed to fix the problem.

She said: “The people of Balcombe are quite understanding with me but really have lost their patience with the post office.

“It’s their only outlet to get any money. There are no other cash machines in Balcombe.

“They fought hard and long to get an outreach here. We’ve built up a good relationship with them and it will be hard to rebuild it again after this.”

“In the end it just got embarrassing because I’ve been told an engineer will be here by 12 every day.

“It makes me feel an idiot because we can only say what the helpdesk tell us.”

Staff were told a special router was needed but the required component has not been provided yet.

Gemma Lewis-Tupper, proprietor of Balcombe Stores, said her business has been running as usual but it has been affected and she has had to pacify customers about the lack of post office.

She said: “It’s just ruined what we’ve built up over the last three years. It’s let everybody down.

“People are very disappointed and angry. A lot of people can’t go anywhere else.

“We are a lot quieter because we haven’t got people coming in or they’re coming in and storming straight out.”

Gemma added that she was giving lots of residents cash back out of her till last week because lots of people were coming in to the post office to get cash to take to the Balcombe Fete.