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Pledge campaign launched in bid to save Hoxne shop and post office

Villagers trying to purchase their post office and shop have launched a pledge campaign ahead of asking the Government for a grant which could secure the site.

The Hoxne Community Post Office Group, led by resident Mike Barton, is trying to secure enough funds to take on the Low Street site, with the current owner set to retire.

With the group having already raised £38,000, it is now hoped the pledge campaign (which the form can be found by clicking here) will gauge what people are hoping to put into the venture when community shares are offered in June, which will hopefully go to securing its future.

Hoxne Post Office and, inset, Mike Barton
Hoxne Post Office and, inset, Mike Barton

Mr Barton said: “We are going to the Government for our main source of money for the purchase, through its community ownership fund, so we need to demonstrate that the project has community support .

“We did a survey in March last year, which had more than 400 responses, which is amazing, so now we are asking how much people would be willing to commit financially.”

Running for around another three weeks, the organiser said it was as much about the number of people wanting to save the shop and post office as it was the amount of money people want to give later down the line.

He added: “We are looking for about 300 members, and then those people, when they the buy shares in June, would have a say in how the business will be run, so it is quite exciting.”

It is estimated that the whole project could cost £683,232, which includes an initial £411,999 to buy the building, around £140,000 for repair work on the roof and £15,316 on solar panels for the site.

Mr Barton said: “What we are asking the community to commit to is funding half the purchase price of the building at the moment. If we can do that, then the Government and other grant funding bodies will hopefully fund the other half, and then we can go from there.

“We have a pledge target of £200,000. If we can get to that, it would be really good value for the community and then other grant providers would help us with the other plans we want to put in place.”

The project and the pledge campaign, Mr Barton said, were not just for the people in the village, but also those further afield.

He added: “It can be for people outside of the village who just want to help stem the loss of all these rural services and take a stand against that.”

Mr Barton said the community relied heavily on the services of the shop and post office, be it older residents, young people or businesses using it for banking.

He said: “I really appreciate everyone who has got on board with this so far. Without them, it would just all collapse. The level of support has been huge and I cannot thank them enough.

“Every time a service in a village like our one goes, it never comes back.

“This shop and post office has been here for around 150 years and we will only find out just how important it is if it disappears. I hope we can get enough pledges so we don’t have to find that out.”

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