Co-operatives taking up the post.
1st May, 2008
With so many rural post offices in the UK threatened with closure, Mark Anslow visits two villages whose residents have taken it upon themselves to deliver the goods.
'Why don’t you sell Mattessons sausages any more?’ It’s the kind of question you might expect in any village shop, only this one didn’t come from the other side of the till – it came during the shop’s Annual General Meeting, and the questioner was a significant shareholder in the business.
A month later, Mattessons sausages were on the shelves of the village shop and post office in West Meon, Hampshire. Community-owned and run as a mutual association, the shop operates for the benefit of its customers and ploughs any profits back into the village.
The origin of this retail revolution has its roots in a situation now faced by thousands of villages across the UK: the closure of the local post office. In the case of West Meon, the owners were ready to retire and sell up, but couldn’t find anyone willing to run the business.
A group of villagers led by Rupert Younger decided the facility was too important for the community to lose, and set about an ambitious plan to finance, build and run a new one.
‘I put an advert in the Parish News for a meeting in the village hall,’ Younger recalls. ‘I wasn’t sure how many people would come,...
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