THE stamping out of the only central post box in Brockenhurst just days before Christmas has baffled and angered villagers.
Many locals have reporting going to the Brookley Road post box only to discover to their surprise it has been sealed up for good and painted black by the Royal Mail (RM).
RM gave no prior notice of its intentions and even caught Brockenhurst Parish Council off guard – prompting the authority to make a formal complaint.
Villager Malcolm Nicholas was one of those unhappy, telling the A&T: “Just in time to stop folk posting cards. Happy Christmas!”
Alan Powell was equally bewildered, commenting: “First, the Brockenhurst Post Office closed, and now the post box attached to the building has been shut as well.
“This means, particularly leading up to Christmas, the elderly, infirm and those without transport will have to get to other post boxes scattered around the area or make the journey to Lymington or Sway.”
The box was close to the village’s former post office – which shut in August. Although there are a number of other post boxes scattered around Brockenhurst, many are in remote areas away from the centre of the village.
The nearest is at Station Approach, 407 metres away, with the next closest at Armstrong Road 433m away.
Writing on Facebook, one villager said for some elderly people that would be a long way in the cold. “For the old folks that’s not always reachable; and for many others with no car who can’t walk distance but just make it to the shops, taking that letter box away is tragic,” she commented.
A spokeswoman for the RM said: “The post box in Brookley Road was taken out of service at the request of the landlords, who did not want the post box sited on the property.
“Customers are able to use several alternative post boxes within a mile’s radius of Brookley Road. We will also ensure that a later collection is made at 4.50pm from the nearby post box located in Butts Lawn Road.
“In line with our policy agreed with Historic England, in consultation with the Letter Box Study Group and the Postal Museum, post boxes are sealed and painted black if they are taken out of service and remain in situ to indicate to customers that they are no longer in use.”
Brockenhurst Parish Council chairman, Cllr Pete Wales, told the A&T: “Parish councillors were very surprised, not only to find the Royal Mail post box closed off without any notice on Friday, but also the collections team visiting to empty the sealed unit.
“The parish council has made a formal procedural complaint to investigate the decision. Whilst there are many other post boxes throughout the village numerous residents are coming to use the facility only to find it sealed, due to the lack of notice.”
Cllr Wales added: “We are in discussion with Brockenhurst Business Association, who could provide space for a temporary box and have contacted Royal Mail to ascertain the feasibility of such a scheme.
“In the meanwhile dialogue continues with potential entrepreneurs with a view to replacing the recently closed Post Office facility itself.”
As reported in the A&T, the village’s post office shut in August when postmistress Elizabeth Kernaghan stepped down after just a year in the role.
Julia Lobley, who has owned the premises since 1995, said she would welcome somebody interested in continuing with a post office but nothing has yet come to fruition.
Asked about the situation, a Post Office spokeswoman said: “We understand how important a post office is to a community and we would like to reassure customers that we are working hard to restore a post office to that area as soon as possible.
“In the interim alternative branches include Sway and Lyndhurst.”
Any retailer or small business owner interested in running the post office and incorporating it into their business should email ND.email@example.com or 0333 345 5560, then select option 2 or visit runapostoffice.co.uk to view details of the vacancy.