Plans to let a community group take over Ramsey’s post office have failed.
Isle of Man Post Office says it has been unable to reach a ‘positive conclusion’ in the negotiations with Ramsey Courthouse Limited (RCL) to take over the business.
All post office services will continue as normal and customers will be unaffectedGraham Cregeen MHK
In April the Post Office agreed in principle to appoint RCL to operate the post office in Ramsey.
The appointment was made following due consideration of RCL’s submission and business plan and was subject to the agreement of all relevant terms and the signing of the draft contract provided.
The Post Office says it was aware that RCL, as a start-up business, supported by community volunteers and business professionals, would require additional support and time to enter into contract.
In a press statement it says: ‘Both parties have dedicated a significant amount of time in supporting this, holding weekly meetings to discuss the plan for the transfer of services and relevant terms of the contract in order for RCL to become the appointed sub postmaster of Ramsey post office.’
Graham Cregeen MHK, chairman of Isle of Man Post Office, said: ‘Isle of Man Post Office is disappointed with the outcome and regrets the strain this project has had on its staff and the extended period of uncertainty this is causing our staff and customers – a situation the Post Office sought to avoid from the outset.’
Nigel Malpass, the chairman of Ramsey Courthouse Ltd, said: ‘It is a very sad day for RCL.
‘Something I can report is that over the last four weeks I have been working with other likeminded members of the community and we hope to have “Friends of Ramsey Courthouse” up and running shortly.
‘We want to work with Ramsey Commissioners and others to help ensure its future use a true community service hub.
‘This would allow for both government representation and private sector initiatives to work alongside each other allowing the Courthouse to remain the “heart” of Ramsey.’
Both parties have signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding the venture.
Mr Cregeen said: ‘The Post Office remains committed to providing postal services in Ramsey.
‘All post office services will continue as normal and customers will be unaffected.
‘Our staff have continued to provide outstanding service to our customers throughout this whole process and will continue to do so.
‘Savings still need to be achieved in order to protect and sustain the future profitability of Isle of Man Post Office and therefore we will advertise as soon as possible to find a new partner to run Ramsey post office.’
Under the original proposal, the post office would have moved from its current position in the old courthouse in Parliament Street and move in with the local Spar shop.
In Douglas, a similar situation is to go ahead eventually.
The Crown post office in Regent Street will be vacated and the business will be run from the nearby Spar shop by Mannin Retail Ltd.
The plans in Douglas met little strong opposition but in Ramsey protests were held, leading to a rethink by the Post Office when Ramsey Courthouse Ltd was formed by volunteers to take over the business.
So what will happen to Ramsey’s post office now?
Mr Cregeen said: ‘A key issue when Isle of Man Post Office’s plans were originally announced was the future use of the Courthouse building in Ramsey, which is currently leased to the Post Office by the Department of Home Affairs.
‘Isle of Man Post Office would consider proposals to run postal services in Ramsey Courthouse from future partners or alternatively assist the people of Ramsey in their desire to create a community facility for the north of the island.’
The Isle of Man Post Office announced it would be converting the two Crown post offices in Ramsey and Douglas on November 17 last year.
This plan had been approval by the Council of Ministers.
But on December 2 the House of Keys supported a motion to postpone the planned conversion of the two crown offices for up to three months to permit the affected staff and local authorities to discuss proposals for achieving the objectives of these conversions and for these to be considered by the Post Office.
RCL submitted its bid to run Ramsey post office on March 31.
Isle of Man Post Office agreed in principle to appoint RCL to run Ramsey post office and Mannin Retail to operate Douglas post office on April 16, subject to the agreement of all relevant terms and the signing of the draft contract provided.
The Post Office says that downgrading the Crown post offices to sub-post offices would generate a saving of £360,000.
A Crown post office’s staff are public employees. A sub-post office is run as an independent business.
Seven of the 19 affected staff have conditionally accepted redeployment positions within the Post Office.
Mannin Retail has agreed and signed a contract to operate Douglas post office. The transfer to Mannin Retail will take place in September 2015.