Post office closure leaves couple ruined and in tears

A COUPLE who poured £150,000 of their life savings into a profitable Muswell Hill post office say they will lose everything if plans to close the store go ahead

A COUPLE who poured £150,000 of their life savings into a profitable Muswell Hill post office say they will lose everything if plans to close the store go ahead.

Shabi Islam and her husband Rafiqul have run the popular post office and shop in Alexandra Park Road for six years and have increased their business by 50 per cent over that time.

But the couple say they will be forced to close if Post Office Ltd axes the shop as part of a controversial cull of up to 2,500 branches nationwide.

Mrs Islam, 29, said: "When the woman told us that our store had been earmarked for closure I was so upset, I couldn't stop crying. But the Post Office clearly don't care about the individual post offices or the communities that will be affected by the planned closures.

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"We bought the 15-year leasehold on this business on the basis that the post office would pull in customers. Our business will not be viable if the post office closes.

"But Post Office bosses don't care."

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The Islams bought the post office for £110,000 and spent £40,000 of their own money installing bullet-proof glass and upgrading security, which the Post Office demanded, as their business grew.

Mrs Islam said: "The redundancy package the Post Office is offering is peanuts. They've been talking about £70-80,000 over 28 months, which is well short of the capital we've invested and the market value of our store."

Mrs Islam also accused the Post Office of "cloak and dagger" tactics after bosses visited the couple in November and asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement banning them from discussing their meeting with anyone - before they had even been told what the meeting was about.

"The whole process is very unfair. We had to sign a letter before we were told what the meeting was about and we were told we couldn't ask any questions and had to accept the outcome."

A Post Office spokesman said: "[The confidentiality agreement] simply enables us to use commercially sensitive information about the branch to give a detailed and specific estimate of the amount of compensation he or she would be due."

More than 2,000 customers have signed a petition pledging their support for the Islams.

A six-week public consultation on the closures runs until April 2. To make a comment, write to Anita Turner, Network Development Manager, National Consultation Team, Freepost Constultation Team, email consultation or call 08457 223 344.

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