VILLAGERS of Bishops Nympton will be losing their post office and shop this weekend – but celebrating the official opening of a new community shop and post office next week! The village was one of many in Devon affected by Post Office Limited s controvers

VILLAGERS of Bishops Nympton will be losing their post office and shop this weekend - but celebrating the official opening of a new community shop and post office next week!

The village was one of many in Devon affected by Post Office Limited's controversial changes last year that resulted in the closures of 41 post offices, while 37 others had theirs replaced with services shared with local shops, or mobile vans.

Bishops Nympton's current post office in the village shop is due to close today (Saturday) and loss of its financial support means the shop will close, too.

But Devon County Council has introduced a grant to help communities where the loss of the post office also threatens the future of the only shops in their villages. Sixteen post office shops are each receiving £5,000 per year for three years, plus free specialist retail consultancy support, to help the businesses make best use of their assets to improve their financial viability.

Bishops Nympton's new shop, which is being set up in the existing premises, will officially open at 11am on June 6 and will be run by local volunteers. The post office element to the shop will be available from the June 29, after new equipment is installed.

Shirley Partridge, one of the members of the local group that has worked to organise the shop, said: "It has been hard work getting the community shop up and running, but we feel that it is a very worthwhile project. We are extremely grateful to Devon County Council for its support. Without it we wouldn't be able to set up this new venture and the village would be without a local shop with post office services. We would also like to thank everyone in the parish who has given us either financial or voluntary help. And thanks to the outgoing shop owner, who has given us an endless supply of help and advice. We hope the shop will be well supported by the community and will become a focal point of village life - somewhere they can have a chat, catch up with the news and, most importantly, spend money!"

Councillor Gordon Hook, who is responsible for the support the council is giving to post office shops, said: "This will be a great day for Bishops Nympton. I am very pleased that the county council is able to support these small businesses in such difficult times. I wish Shirley and the team of volunteers who will run the shop every success with their new venture. I am sure, that with the support of people in the local community, it will be a tremendous success.