Bishop Middleham residents warned struggling village shop and Post Office could close in months (From The Advertiser Series)
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Bishop Middleham residents warned struggling village shop and Post Office could close in months
A VILLAGE shop owner and sub postmaster is urging locals to support his business, warning that a lack of trade could force him to close within four months.
Barrie Cook, of Bishop Middleham Post Office and village shop, says he is struggling to survive.
The Post Office, on Bank Top, is housed within the shop. It is staffed by Mr Cook, his partner Christine Graham and three part-time workers.
Mr Cook has run the Post Office for two years and fears that if he closes the business will never re-open in the village near Ferryhill.
Mr Cook said: “We are struggling and when the big bills come in, like the electricity bill, it’s a big, big problem to us.
“I don’t think it’s personal, but Bishop Middleham is a small rural village. We could reduce the hours we open, but then we lose what little trade we get.
“Bishop Middleham is a commuter village and people do their shopping where they go to work. This is hurting me, but helping businesses in other towns.
“The next nearest Post Office is at Ferryhill and we’ve a limited bus service. It would be difficult for people, especially the elderly, without a vehicle to get there.
“I’ve been in touch with several agencies to try and get help. We really need everyone’s support.
“We knew it would be hard, but the problem is so bad that the businesses could close in three to four months.”
The Post Office opens from 9am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturday and the shop is open 6.15am to 8pm every day.
It stocks everyday items, offers a newspaper delivery service, dry cleaning, the National Lottery and the Post office facilities.
In 1960, the village boasted 15 businesses, including a hairdressers, petrol station, fish and chip shop and five pubs.
Now half a century later it has just one Post Office and village store, a butchers and two pubs.
Bishop Middleham and Mainsforth Parish Council is urging residents to use the business.
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