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Opening date revealed for new village Post Office

Richard and Karen Dance took over the former Sainsbury’s store on Brookley Road, Brockenhurst
Richard and Karen Dance took over the former Sainsbury’s store on Brookley Road, Brockenhurst

BROCKENHURST’S Post Office will be open for businesses at its new home from 10th June, it has been confirmed.

Karen and Richard Dance, the owners of its new base, the Welcome store, said they were “very pleased” to bring back what was a “much missed facility”.

“We hope it will be a draw to the High Street and bring back customers as they will no longer need to travel outside of the village for Post Office services,” the pair told the A&T.

“It has been a goal of the parish council and many in the village to see the Post Office back, and with their help support and encouragement we have been able to do this.”

The Post Office will open at the Brookley Road store, subject to any delays caused by coronavirus, from 9am. It will initially operate weekly until 5.30pm and 1pm on Saturdays, with the hope that demand will increase those hours to 9pm at weekends.

A spokeswoman for the Post Office said: “The Post Office is now inviting customers and interested parties to give their comments on the move.

“We are looking for feedback about accessibility, local community issues and anything that we can do to make life easier for our customers.”

Comments will be accepted until 16th June online at postofficeviews.co.uk with the branch code 220546, via email to comments@postoffice.co.uk, by post to Freepost Your Comments, or on 03452 660 115.

As reported previously in the A&T, the former sole Post Office branch in the village closed last August, frustrating many residents. There was subsequent uproar just before Christmas when the village’s central post box was bricked up without warning.

However, the Dances announced this year they had stepped in to take over the former Sainsbury’s outlet, which had been vacant, to run a branch of their Welcome store.

It opened in March and they confirmed it would host a Post Office – which was warmly welcomed by Brockenhurst Parish Council’s deputy chairman, Cllr Michael Harris, who is also the cabinet member for business on New Forest District Council.

Welcome was started by Mr Dance’s parents, and he got involved in the business more than 30 years ago when he was 23. He and his wife also run outlets in Marchwood and Ashurst.

To help attract shoppers to the Brockenhurst store they installed an outside tap where bottles can be refilled, environmentally-friendly initiatives, meal deals, a Tango machine and posted a cotton bag to every household in the village.

Speaking to the A&T, the Dances said the store had performed well despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak

“Opening and trading the store during the coronavirus pandemic has not been easy as it has given us many more things to think about including the social distancing aspect,” they said.

“We have had to be very self-sufficient as most companies have taken reps off the road. Our colleagues, though, have been going over and above in supporting the national effort to help customers across our communities get the products they need during these unprecedented times.

“We are settling into more of a pattern now, although the situation is evolving daily.

Our new customers have been very supportive and given lots of positive feedback which is heartwarming to receive.”

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