A sub post office that occupies part of a Cambridgeshire County Council library has failed to pay rent for SIX YEARS – and only now are eviction proceedings getting under way. But that will take time and the county council admits it could take until spring/summer of 2024 to be able to regain possession of the space the post office occupies at Bar Hill library near Cambridge.
The council describes the impasse as “the failure of a protracted six-year negotiation to regularise the position of the post office in Bar Hill library”.
However, the council announced this week the postmaster has been issued with a notice to quit “while still hoping to reach agreement to secure its future”.
A council spokesperson said: “This will not result in an immediate closure of post office services – and indeed the council still hopes to reach an agreement with the existing postmaster.
“Bar Hill post office has been operating in the library since 2013, but the postmaster since 2017 hasn’t been prepared to accept the tenancy terms and so the council hasn’t been able to collect rent or contributions for running costs such as heating, lighting, and cleaning the space occupied.
“Following lengthy discussions with the postmaster to regularise this position, the county council has been left with no alternative, and has served a ‘notice to quit’.”
The spokesperson said: “The county council’s position is that it welcomes a post office on this site and would like it to continue.
“It has told the Post Office Ltd, the national organisation, of the position and will support them in finding alternative solutions to ensure Bar Hill residents still have local access to post office services if this becomes necessary – but is still focussed on negotiating a continued presence in the library.
“Following the serving of a notice to quit the council will await a place on the court list, likely to be in December/January.”
The council says that once the notice is served, “we will continue to work to see if litigation can be avoided in favour of negotiation or mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution.
“The court will expect lines of communication the be kept open and if possible, for resolution before a hearing.
“If the matter is settled, after proceedings are issued, we would look to agree a consent order setting out the terms and file that with the court”.
The spokesperson added: “If all else fails, and the court decision is to evict the sitting tenant this is unlikely to happen before spring/summer 2024.
“The Post Office has indicated that if the postmaster does leave, they would assess the requirement for a post office at Bar Hill and explore all the options to provide a service.
“That might mean advertising the opportunity in the library (which we would still make available to them), from an alternative location or a mobile service as happens in other local villages.”
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