Staffing prob­lems hit open­ing hours at Kil­choan Post Of­fice

The Oban Times - - News - MARK ENTWISTLE men­twistle@oban­times.co.uk

STAFFING prob­lems have forced changes to the open­ing hours of Kil­choan Post Of­fice, while a bout of ill­ness has stalled plans to sell the vil­lage’s Ferry Stores shop and petrol pumps.

The post of­fice is shut­ting for a week from mid­day to­day (Thursday) and fol­low­ing this will no longer open on Mon­days.

The Ferry Stores shop and petrol sta­tion are un­af­fected and will be open as usual and, although the post of­fice will re­open on Wed­nes­day next week – Au­gust 9 – an ex­ecu­tor for the es­tate which owns the business has con­firmed the Mon­day post of­fice clo­sures from then.

In a new post on the Kil­choan Di­ary blog site, Chris Ball says the week-long shut­down of the post of­fice is to al­low fam­ily to travel to Kent for a memo­rial ser­vice for his late brother Jonathan.

Jonathan Ball owned the Ferry Stores for the 10 years prior to his death at the age of 58 in the au­tumn fol­low­ing a brave fight against cancer.

Chris Ball is an ex­ecu­tor of his late brother’s es­tate, which in­cludes the Ferry Stores, post of­fice and petrol fill­ing sta­tion business.

‘Un­for­tu­nately, there is no- one else who is trained and avail­able to run the post of­fice,’ ex­plained Mr Ball, who apol­o­gised for any in­con­ve­nience.

Mr Ball says other re­cent staffing is­sues, which had been af­fect­ing the shop’s open­ing hours, have now been over­come and, as a re­sult, the shop will be open as usual.

How­ever, that has not helped re­solve staff short­ages with the post of­fice.

Mr Ball con­tin­ued: ‘In the full­ness of time we hope to be able to train up some­one else to run the post of­fice counter but we are still suf­fer­ing from staff short­ages at this busy height of the sea­son and the train­ing takes a lit­tle while. Please re­spect th­ese clo­sures and plan ac­cord­ingly. If you have any con­cerns, please raise them with me, rather than with the staff who are do­ing an ex­cel­lent job main­tain­ing this vi­tal ser­vice to the com­mu­nity through dif­fi­cult times. My con­tin­ued thanks to all the staff and vol­un­teers for their in­valu­able help in con­tin­u­ing to en­sure the shop re­mains open for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity.’

One lo­cal res­i­dent, who did not want to be named, ad­mit­ted there was con­cern in the area over what was go­ing to hap­pen to the shop and fuel pumps since there are no sim­i­lar ser­vices for more than 20 miles.

‘The church now needs a lot of im­prove­ment works done and added to that is this lin­ger­ing un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of the shop and petrol pumps. If we lost any of th­ese things it would be a ma­jor blow to the lo­cal com­mu­nity here,’ she said.

Com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­man Ge­off Camp­bell said the sale of the business is the pre­ferred out­come of many res­i­dents. ‘We had a con­sul­ta­tion re­cently and the over­whelm­ing de­ci­sion was it would be best if the Balls sold the busi­nesses to some­one else. There was no in­ter­est in any kind of com­mu­nity buy- out,’ said Mr Camp­bell.

‘The business is a very im­por­tant as­set to the com­mu­nity, so it's all a bit frus­trat­ing but hope­fully the sit­u­a­tion will be re­solved soon.’

Ear­lier this year a pro­gramme of im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing a new roof, was car­ried out at the shop.

Chris Ball also re­vealed in his lat­est blog post that, due to a re­cent bout of ill­ness, he had been un­able to progress plans for the sale of the shop, which first opened in 1912.

‘Rest as­sured, I want to re­solve this as fast as I can but not at fur­ther ex­pense to my health. Thank you again for your pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing,’ he added.

Mr Ball was un­able to be con­tacted prior to pub­li­ca­tion of this week’s Lochaber Times.

f31 Kil­choan petrol sta­tion 1JP

The fill­ing sta­tion at Kil­choan has what are thought to be the old­est work­ing fuel pumps in Scot­land.

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