12:00pm Tuesday 27th March 2012
By Andrew Ffrench
WHEN film star Helena Bonham Carter needs a pint of milk she often calls in at the village store in Sutton Courtenay.
Now she will be able to fulfil all her post office needs after Deepak Patel, 52, the owner of Burgrey Stores, agreed to open up a post office branch seven days a week.
Mr Patel has run the shop with wife Rita, 50, for 16 years and opened the new branch yesterday.
The village near Didcot has been without a post office since July when the branch in Bradstocks Way closed.
Ms Bonham Carter and her film director husband Tim Burton own a house in the village and she is sometimes spotted in Burgrey Stores.
Mr Patel said: “Sometimes she comes in but I’m so busy I don’t notice and then people tell me afterwards. I hope she will come in to use the post office.
“People have missed the post office and I’m glad to be opening up a branch.”
Mr Patel added that the village store was about 100 years old.
Callum MacKenzie, 57, of Drayton Road, Sutton Courtenay, said: “Everyone in the village is delighted. Mr Patel has taken on a lot and I’m sure people will do all they can to support him.”
Post Office spokesman Sally Hopkins said: “We propose to trial the new service from Burgrey Stores in High Street over the next 12 months. This is one of our new models called Post Office Local, which means customers can get their groceries while they use the post office and won’t have to queue twice.
“Customers will benefit from the open-plan counter with a range of key products alongside the retail transactions.
“They benefit from extensive opening hours, including Saturday afternoon and Sundays.”
Services will include automated banking, bill and budget payment schemes, and processing mail for the UK and abroad.
Earlier this month the Government announced more than 6,000 post office branches will be revamped in the next three years. A programme costing £1.34bn will modernise the sub-branches, which will then be styled as main or local branches.
The investment is in stark contrast to the closure programme ordered under the previous government, which shut 22 branches across Oxfordshire in 2008.
About 6,600 branches have closed across the UK since the year 2000, with 11,800 now remaining.
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