I'll run post office free of charge - Clifton shopkeeper
A CLIFTON shopkeeper has made an offer to reopen his post office and run it free of charge.
Satnam Singh, who runs a small supermarket in Alma Vale Road, said he was prepared to run the post office at no cost to help his local community.
Mr Singh, 58, said: "I am prepared to do this because of the queues of people I see in the nearest post office at Cotham Hill.
"People have to wait for ages and for elderly people it is too much to stand in a queue for so long.
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"I am sure there is a demand for a post office in my area and I am prepared to do this at no cost.
"I would provide the premises and run it free of charge. I would not charge for electricity or heating.
"My only request would be for a reduction in my council tax charge."
Mr Singh used to run the post office in his shop before it was closed down four years ago.
It was one of 20 in the city which was axed by the Post Office as part of a nationwide paring down of postal services.
Mr Singh, a former police officer who has 20 years' experience as a postmaster, said: "They closed down the post office here because of financial problems.
"But if I am prepared to run it at no cost, I cannot see any problem.
"I'm sure people in this area – especially the elderly – would appreciate not having to go so far to post a letter or parcel."
Before he could re-open, Mr Singh would need permission from the Post Office.
A Post Office spokeswoman said: "When considering a request to open a post office branch, we look at a wide range of factors including the ability of the existing network to cope with customer demand, the impact that this would have on the business levels at the adjacent network of post offices and whether a re-opened branch would generate enough business to be financially viable for both Post Office Ltd and the operator.
"In cases such as Alma Vale Road, it would be important to understand what significant changes there have been locally since the original closure that would warrant the branch re-opening."
Mr Singh's request for a cut in his council tax is not a matter for the Post Office but the city council.
A council spokesman said: "With regards to any discount from us on council tax, this would come under business rate discretionary rate relief and we would need to assess any application from the trader in the event of the circumstances that the Post Office approved a re-opening and the manager ran it as a not-for-profit business.
"If the leaseholder wishes to 'trade' from the premises in a not-for-profit capacity, and they fulfil the three-stage financial assessment as listed in our current policy, they would be entitled to a 50 per cent reduction which works out at about £3,500 a year.
"However, if they continue trading as a mini market and ran the post office in a not-for-profit manner, then the business as a whole would be taken into account and the relief would probably not be awarded.
"We don't currently have any business operating in the split way outlined."