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Post office in Prince Avenue, Westcliff, closes after 20 years
A POST office has closed after 20 years of being run by the same people.
Vinod and Meena Patel took over the sub post office in Prince Avenue, Westcliff, when they moved to the area from London. They built up the business which includes a convenience store and off-licence over the last two decades.
However, the landlord didn’t renew the lease as there are plans to build flats in its place.
The post office closed on Monday and the couple were told to leave the premises by Wednesday.
Mr Patel, 58, said: “It is a dreadful time, a stressful time, 20 years down the drain. We found out a few weeks ago, we tried to negotiate.
“I am sorry to let the customers down, there is nothing we can do about it. I have wonderful, loyal customers who have been with me for the last 20 years - it like family.”
Mike Grimwade, Lib Dem ward councillor, said he had been sent a letter warning him of the closure.
He said: “My concern is the retention of a postal service in that area. While I was there yesterday three customers came in and said ‘what do we do now?’ There are two blocks of old people’s flats adjacent to it who have always used it.”
Customers say they the service is vital for the local community.
Dorothy Goodwin, of Queen Anne’s Drive, said: “There are a lot of old people round here, including two big homes for the elderly. The nearest post office will now be a mile away. It shut without warning. I’ve been trying to find out what happened.
“It really is very bad. Lots of people rely on the post office to get their money. Not everyone has bank accounts and a lot of elderly people don’t have cars. They will have a long way to walk now.”
Another regular customer, who didn’t want to be named, added: “The reaction locally amongst the customers, who have come to regard them as close friends, has been quite astonishing. There have been people in tears in the shop. Some regulars have brought them flowers and presents.
“The nearest post office is too far away for any elderly person to walk, quite what they are supposed to do I don’t know.”
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of the Post Office branch in Princes Avenue. This is due to the withdrawal of premises for Post Office use. We would like to reassure customers that we are working hard to maintain services in the area and are currently exploring a number of options in order for us to do so."