Local postmaster who know 95% of his customers by name reveals possiblity of shutting up shop.

Many Bedford Park residents have been shocked to read about the plight of their local sub-postmaster in an article in the Guardian newspaper. Ratilal Lad whose business is on Bedford Corner revealed that he has been in talks with the Postmasters' Federation. He was reported as saying, "There are talks going on .. about compensation. I'm 52, if I get offered reasonable compensation, I will go and this post office may close."

Times have been tough for the business with profits down from £30,000 to £25,000 last year (still better than Consignia's £1.3bn loss!) and the future looks very bleak with automatic credit transfer meaning that benefit payments will no longer be handled by sub-post offices from 2003. According to Mr. Lad this is 40-45% of his business and may mean that many other post offices will also need to close.

Mr Lad praised the increased automation of the Post Office but said that the pace of change was too slow and that the government have been half-hearted in their involvement.

He came to England in 1969 from Uganda, a refugee from Idi Amin and took over the post office in 1979 with his wife. He said, "it is the customers who have made me stay on. They are both kind and loyal. I know 95% of my regulars by name. A sub-post office is the most social place you can get. It's a meeting place for everyone who uses it, a lot of ideas and information is exchanged and people who haven't seen their friends for months and months sometimes bump into them here."

The post office is very much the focus of small cluster of shops at Bedford Corner where Mr. Lad's brother also runs the local newsagent.

One Bedford Park resident said, "The Lad brothers and their families are the heart and soul of this community and I think people underestimate at their peril the extent of the loss to Bedford Park if it were to close. I'm sure he will enjoy playing more cricket but the rest of us will be the poorer for the loss of a post office in such friendly and capable hands."

Another local, Ian Wylie added, "I'd nominate Mr Lad for any award available for his outstanding service to Chiswick residents."

Guardian Article

Contact "Watchdog" about your local mail problems

Watchdog to investigate Chiswick deliveriesl

Problems with deliveries in Chiswick