Post office opening had to be delayed

S49661H13 Southwick post office on Saturday, not quite ready for the official opening
S49661H13 Southwick post office on Saturday, not quite ready for the official opening

THE official opening of Southwick post office had to be cancelled due to delays in work on the new shop.

The post office and new pound shop was due to be officially opened on Saturday, during the Southwick Christmas Festival, but will now be opened this Saturday at 10am instead.

The premises has been kept running through an ongoing saga of legal problems since the former postmaster, Glenys Lewis-Ford, died in March 2011.

Mr Sameer Philips, who has two other shops in Southwick Square, took over the shop in October last year but has faced various battles with both the Post Office and Adur Council since.

Mrs Beryl Ferrers-Guy, former secretary of the chamber of commerce, became involved because she was the only one who knew the lease history.

“It has been absolute chaos, stop start, stop start,” she explained. “There has been a myriad of legal complications.

“A lesser man would have given up but Sameer is so determined.”

Finally, a tenancy in common was formally handed over two weeks ago, which meant Mr Philips could begin work on transforming the shop, in front of the post office counter.

Work has been done to lower the ceiling and put in air conditioning and heating.

Mr Philips said: “It is a miracle. From 1971, that post office was the same. Now, in 10 days, it has totally changed, you wouldn’t believe it is the same place.”

He said it had been really hard, because he had had very little support from the Post Office.

He added: “The reason I took the post office was because I am really feeling sorry for the old people and if that post office is closed, it is the heart of the Square.

“I am gambling. I had so many people, some supporting me and others saying I was going to take over the Square.

“I was working for a year and a half for free just to take on that post office. Most of the time I was working on my own.”

Vi Wilkinson and Linda Burton, the two women working behind the counter, have been praised for carrying on in difficult conditions.

Mrs Ferrers-Guy said the post office was fortunate to have the ‘valiant support’ of the two women.