Ely Post Office re-opens after almost a week

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The issues that caused Ely Post Office to be mysteriously closed this week have now been resolved, according to the Costcutter’s owner and the Post Office.

A Post Office spokeswoman told Spotted in Ely that the company is trying to find a “permanent solution for Ely”.

At 1pm today (Friday), the Costcutter shop at Central Hall, Market Street, which houses Ely’s only Post Office, opened its doors for the first time since Saturday.

The Costcutter’s owner told Spotted in Ely that “all issues have been resolved” and that he did not foresee any further problems.

A Post Office spokeswoman said the company was “seeking a permanent solution for Ely”, following the latest incident, which saw the Post Office and shop mysteriously shut for the best part of a week.

“Ely Post Office closed this week at very short notice.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the unplanned closure.

“We have worked hard to restore Post Office services as quickly as possible.”

Closure sparked concerns

Many people have voiced their frustration at the sudden closure, with several people who had left passport applications at the Ely branch last Saturday sharing their concerns with Spotted in Ely.

Ian Tufnail, who left a parcel at the Post Office for Parcel Force to collect on Saturday, said the package been stuck there all week, describing the Ely branch as “a bit archaic”.

He said he sympathised with the staff, and having more people behind the counters would help to alleviate queues and take some pressure off existing staff.

Mr Tufnail questioned whether having the Post Office in a dedicated building would be a more sensible long-term option to having it hosted inside a shop.

Impact on neighbouring branches

Meanwhile neighbouring branches have experienced a surge in customers this week, leading to Littleport Post Office manager Paula Bailey to write on Tuesday: “Today we have had a lot of upset Ely customers into our shop but please can everyone remember even tho the queues maybe long at times, we do try our best to serve everyone as quick as possible.”

Shelley Davies-Bloss, who runs Witchford Post Office, reminded people on Tuesday that Ely customers were welcome to travel to her branch but that they could not provide car tax, passports or driving licences.

“I hope these issues are sorted soon as I do not want my regular customers to be affected by this too much although they are a great bunch and know they wouldn’t mind.

“Let’s hope someone takes on the Sub postmaster role soon, I can recommend it but it’s extremely hard work and carries most of the risks of being self employed.”

She advised anyone interested in the role to contact the Post Office directly to discuss it further.

Issues resolved says Post Office

The Post Office spokeswoman said the “operational issues” which had caused the closure of Ely Post Office have now been resolved.

Asked whether one branch was enough to service a city with a population of about 20,000 people, she said: “A Post Office the size of the existing one in Ely can meet Ely’s needs and offer the full range of Post Office services.”

Staffing

She was also asked to address the issue of the Ely branch being chronically understaffed; over the past few months the Post Office has been advertising for three part time clerks and numerous customers have complained of long queues.

The spokeswoman said: “Staffing is a matter for the postmaster.

“We will work with the postmaster to ensure the high level of service that we expect in all of our branches is maintained.”

Back story

Back in July Spotted in Ely broke the story that the Post Office was advertising for a retailer to take over the running of its Ely branch, after the previous postmaster lost his contract in May, due to “a private contractual matter”.

A new postmaster has still not been found, despite estimated fees in the area ranging between £99,300 to £110,800 per year, and since May, the branch has been operating a reduced service, from 9am to 5.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and has often been chronically short staffed.

The Market Street Post Office opened its doors in December 2014, offering extended hours and additional services.

Before that had been situated in a portable building in Paradise car park for over a year, until it could be found a permanent home.