Future in the bag for Ballater Post Office

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Ballater residents will be breathing a sigh of relief after finding out that there will still be a post office in the village for at least another year.

An agreement has been reached between the retiring postmaster and Post Office Ltd which will see the provider take on the lease to the building and the running of the facility for the next 12 months.

A question mark had been hanging over the future of the Upper Deeside facility after the current operators, Graeme and Lynne Eldred, handed in their notice to the corporation in September last year.

The Eldreds had been trying to retire for a year but it had been claimed that the Post Office had not being searching for replacements.

Now after 11 years of work the couple have taken their retirement and Post Office Ltd have taken the step of running the branch themselves.

Ballater and Crathie Community Council chair, Graham Adams, welcomed the announcement but criticised what he called a “last-minute deal,” adding: “This is great news but it is unfortunate that it took so much haranguing to get it done.

“We’ve spent months trying to get the Post Office and Royal Mail round the table to speak about this... they did nothing at all to remedy this situation and it seems like they waited until the last minute to find a solution.”

Mr Adams added that it would have been “completely unacceptable” for village residents to have to travel to Aboyne or Braemar, the nearest alternative branches.

Local Councillor Geva Blackett said: “This is excellent news for both Graeme and Lynne - who have suffered months of worry - and for all of us who use the Ballater Post Office. I was told some months ago by Post Office Ltd that they fully intend to keep the service in Ballater and they have kept their word...”

She was echoed by ward colleague Cllr Katrina Farquhar: “It is good news that the Post Office will stay open and hopefully we can get a permanent post master soon to ensure its future.”

Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine MP Sir Robert Smith said: “I welcome the fact that the immediate crisis has been dealt with... A community the size of Ballater needs and deserves a fully functioning post office.”