New post office gets our stamp of approval

BELSIZE Park is jumping for joy at the opening of a new post office in Budgens on Haverstock Hill.

Residents, who have campaigned for six years to get a branch on the high street, celebrated with a glass of bubbly and some nibbles.

The sub-post office is a 12-month trial. If successful, it will be made permanent – so campaigners are urging residents to use it as much as possible.

Its opening hours will be the same as Budgens, run by Andrew Thornton. They are Monday to Saturday 7am to 11pm and Sunday noon to 6pm.

Resident and poet Alan Brownjohn said: “We have missed a post office for several years so it is fantastic that this has opened here. I am delighted and I will definitely be using it.

“We are much in debt to Andrew Thornton for opening the branch and lots of people, including myself, have been in to use it already to buy stamps and post parcels.”

Resident Martin Scott and his wife Julia added: “We have lived here for 26 years and I am really pleased to see a post office reopened on the high street. Having to go to Hampstead or Finchley Road was difficult and the queues when you got there were enormous. We are very pleased.”

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Three post offices in England’s Lane, Haverstock Hill and Belsize Village have closed their doors in recent years with the final branch closing in 2008.

Gene Adams, from the Belsize Post Office Action Group, said: “We have campaigned for a very long time for this post office and had to remind them that people do still write letters and cards and they need post offices.

“We are absolutely delighted that this one has opened here. It is something we have been campaigning for six years.”

Former Belsize councillor Alexis Rowell, who campaigned hard for the post office, said: “This could not have happened without Andrew Thornton.

“He understands that this is something the local community really wants and we are really lucky to have him and that he wants to work with us.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this and it is a message of hope. It is unique and the first one in a store of this size in the country. So hopefully it can be copied in other places which have lost sub post offices.”

Cllr Tom Simon added: “People are using the post office already buying stamps and sending parcels which is great. It is a brand new way of doing things and it will be a wonderful addition locally both for residents and businesses.”

Andrew Thornton, owner of Budgens on Haverstock Hill and another in Crouch End, said: “It is fantastic. It has been a long campaign which started before I got here so I am pleased we now have a post office.

“For me, food stores need to be the centre of the community and post offices are one of the best examples of that – we are tied to the community which is great.”