Archived Feature ~ Shopping in the Village

Some of you will probably have heard rumours about the future of Lubenham News. Mike and Doris Doehren can now let villagers know their plans.

After 13 years in Lubenham, working 364 days a year with very early starts, they felt that, as they are now both in their 60s, it was high time for a drastic change in their lifestyle. Having tried unsuccessfully to sell the business, and after much consideration of the other options, they came to the conclusion that it would be best to dispose of the delivery of newspapers. This would not only give them some much-needed time for themselves, but possibly give them the time and space to increase the stock of groceries, etc., to try to provide the village with a better service in these areas. Papers will continue to be sold over the counter, but from Sunday 16th September the delivery rounds will be taken over by the Mercury News shop (in Harborough). If you already have newspapers delivered you should have received details of the changes by now.

You may have seen Mike and Doris doing the paper rounds themselves recently, and will appreciate how difficult it has been to recruit and retain reliable deliverers. If you have children over 13 years (or are of any age with a little time to spare) please consider the paper rounds. Since it is unlikely that the staff of the Mercury shop can do the actual delivering, it is therefore in your interest, if you wish to keep a delivery service in the village, to ensure there are people willing to keep it going. (The papers for each round will be delivered to the house of the delivery person.)

From 16th September the Lubenham shop will open on Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will no longer open on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

Mike and Doris thank all villagers for their support and custom in the past. They hope that existing customers will continue to use the shop and that those villagers who have no yet made their acquaintance will at least come to see what they offer.

We are all very hopeful - and confident - that Geoff and Liz will have our sub post office open again before Chlistnnas at The Coach and Horses. Edward Gamier, our local MP, who has pledged his full support to the venture, was to have met Derek Bott last week to discuss the next stages; but this meeting could not, of course, take place. All we are waiting for now is a grant from the Vital Village Project, which has already given more than 40 grants to establish shops and post offices in rural communities.

Liz hopes that she will soon undergo her training so that she will emerge as a fully fledged sub-postmistress. The post office will be set up in one of the local outbuildings in the yard and full security protection will be provided by the Post Office (or Consignia, as it would like to be known). A full counter service will be operated on three mornings each week and money may be paid into your bank account if it is with those which have an agreement with the Post Office.

We will also have one of the 'Horizon' machines which you may have seen in other local sub post offices: they are being tested in Leicestershire before being set up nationwide. Using a touch-sensitive screen people will be able to fmd out about benefit entitlements and employment opportunities, local information and advice for retired people on pensions. The idea is a one stop service that's been called a "First-Stop Shop". It should help a lot of people's dealings with central and local government; the sub-post mistress, with technology support, becomes somebody you go to in the first instance to perform a lot of basic procedures. There will eventually be scope to take up more of central governinent's work in the Post Offices.

An exciting future possibility is the creation of an agency service so that if you have an account with one of the main banks you can still access a limited service at their post office, which is great for us in rural areas. For those who either don't want a bank account or can't get one there is the possibility of a "universal bank", a Post Office operated bank which will actually handle those accounts.

Bill Johnston
September 2001


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