Staffing problems hit opening hours at Kilchoan Post Office
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.
The filling station at Kilchoan has what are thought to be the oldest working fuel pumps in Scotland.