The future role of the Post Office in Galmpton

By Gary Deare, Postmaster

The past challenges

In 2018 Kay and myself completed 25 years running Galleon Stores and Galmpton Post Office.

We came with a very young family in 1993 from Solihull where Kay & I worked in retail banking.

In 1993 all the work was done with paper, pen and pocket calculator. Windows 95 was still some years away and mobile phones were only seen on Star Trek.

In the early years of the Post Office most of the work we undertook was provided by Government departments including pensions, child and unemployment benefit, national savings and TV licencing with the remaining business coming from Royal Mail.

On a personal front we soon immersed our lives in this community from assisting with PTA events, running junior football, bringing key people together to start the Gooseberry Pie Fair or the Local History Society. We have supported both the Parish magazine and Mike at the Gazette from its inception and have had regular contact with our MP, the local councillors, the Residents’ Association and The Community Partnership.

Many happy evenings were spent down the Manor Inn attempting a good score on quiz night.

In more recent times we have been involved with the National Trust organising conservation surveys and encouraging the community to be more aware of local wildlife.

From the early days it soon became clear to us that providing services from the Post Office and groceries from the shop was only a part of our role. The Post Office stood for more. It represented the heart of the community where local residents from Galmpton and the nearby communities of Churston and Broadsands could come and talk, ask questions, solve problems, find out what’s going on and meet other people.

What makes this small part of Devon a wonderful place to live is the community built around all the shops, the Pubs, the schools, the church and the village hall.

Our challenge over these 25 years has always been how do we maintain a commercially viable Post Office at the heart of our community.

Thousands of Post Offices have closed over this time; many of them supporting larger communities than ours. The Post Office network has looked at closing Galmpton Post Office a number of times. We have always tried to anticipate these threats and respond with initiatives that prove to the authorities our community still wants a Post Office and shows its support for the services offered.

Where we are successful compared with other communities, is the wonderful support we receive and the encouragement this has given us to build and develop new ideas, increase the range of stock and be innovative with how we provide services. For example the offering of post office services from the shop counter, which was introduced by us to Galmpton in 2005, a full 10 years before the rest of the country saw the advantage.

The present situation

Traditional Post Offices like ours are paid an allowance to the Postmaster to house the Post Office in his premises and cover the running costs, power, heating etc. (last increased in 2006). On top of this, commission/fees are paid for all the transactions undertaken in the office. Put simply if you withdraw £100 from your bank account, the bank pays the Post Office a set fee for the transaction. Likewise with a parcel, Royal Mail (now a private company) pays a fee to us for each parcel.

In more recent times it has hit home how dramatically the services we offer have changed, yet the role played by the post office in a community is still as essential as ever. When a Post Office closes, the community will lose a wide number of services – but far more importantly – it loses the anchor role represented by the Post Office.

The challenge facing the management at Post Office Ltd (still owned by our Government) is how to marry these two contrasting sides; namely making the business commercially viable without losing its social role.

While a price can be placed on a business transaction, the value of the service is priceless. The old Oscar Wilde quote that a cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing can also be applied to a cynical Government.

The problem now is the lack of transactions being processed at all Post Offices. Traditional areas of stamp sales, parcels and Government services have declined dramatically over the last few years. Stamps through technology, parcels through competition to Royal Mail and Government Service to a combination of technology and austerity. The last two Government services – premium bonds and income tax payments – were withdrawn in 2017.

The provision of additional banking services has been the only positive trend in recent years. We are in effect a Village Bank that still sells stamps and posts parcels. The fees paid by the banks are unsurprisingly not high and do not make up for the loss in other areas.

The Future and how you can help

How does the Post Office solve the problem of being financially sound yet still support the community? What do we mean by community support?

It is the face to face help and support which is in the community and not on a phone or a screen. The help which not only comes from Kay & myself but from the staff at Galleon Stores, from the other businesses, help from neighbours you bump into while on the way to the shops.

Help that could be as simple as good morning and how are you. Encouragement to join in a social event. Help that might include come and have a coffee or lets go for a walk, help with kids and elderly parents. Help when someone is poorly or learning to live on your own again after the loss of a loved one.

This is what we mean by community and the heart of a community is a Post Office. 

In my mind the answer is already out there: it is the the people who make up the community and visitors to our Village.

We need to become more commercial and put the Post Office on a sustainable footing, but we want to do this in the right way.

The Post Office still offers a large range of services, many introduced in the last few years. At certain times some of these services may be of interest to you and in turn the use of any of these services will support the Post office in your village.

  • Home, Life, Pet, Motor and Holiday insurance
  • Mortgages
  • Telephone and internet services
  • Credit cards
  • Savings accounts
  • Travel money including travel money cards
  • Personal loans
  • Personal and business banking
  • Parcels including Drop & Go collections and returns
  • Change giving
  • Mobile topups
  • One4all gift cards

How can I find out more?

Contact us via the following and we will come and speak to you, or pop into the Post Office anytime.

Phone: 01803 842148 or 07943 886460

E mail: garydeare@aol.com

Website: www.galleonstores.co.uk

Alternatively, please email your questions/queries, suggestions and contact details to garydeare@aol.com.

Galmpton Post Office

Click here for our article on the future of Galmpton Post Office.

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