RESIDENTS of Four Marks and Medstead are hoping that a branch modernisation programme could pave the way for both villages to benefit from a sub-post office.

The Post Office says the hosts of the current location at Medstead Hardware have decided not to take part in the programme – so the hunt is on for a new operator for the area.

Its spokesperson said: “As part of the Post Office’s largest ever branch modernisation programme, we have asked postmasters whether they want to modernise their branch or to leave, subject to us finding a suitable premises and suitable new operator. As a result we have advertised the vacancy at Medstead.”

She confirmed that, “while interest has been expressed in taking on the sub-post office, any relocation would be subject to a six-week public consultation.”

Adding: “We are not yet in a position to begin consultation. Lots of factors are taken into consideration before we put forward the best proposal for a community.”

While Medstead residents are hoping that the service will remain in the village, others are hoping the modernisation programme will pave the way for the return of a sub-post office to neighbouring Four Marks.

Appreciative of the service provided over the years by the Medstead facility, long time Four Marks resident and former parish councillor, Derek Seaton, is hoping this could provide the opportunity to relocate a sub-post office nearer to the heart of Four Marks and South Medstead, where the majority of folk live.

Four Marks last had a PO counter facility in 2007, when it was located in a shop on the Oakgreen Parade. Since then residents have had to travel to the neighbouring village to access a sub-post office. Efforts made over the years to correct the situation have proved unsuccessful, and Mr Seaton believes the time has now come to rectify it.

He points out that since the survey the village of Four Marks “has seen many new houses built and the population has more than doubled to around 4,000 and is likely to continue to grow in the near future.

So we have the situation that a population of 4,000 has a difficult journey along a winding narrow lane that is too far to walk, is dangerous for cyclists and does not have a bus route, to get to the sub-Post Office, whereas a population of around 1,000 (in Medstead) has the PO within easy access.”

While rumour has it that to date two locations have been put forward for the relocation of the sub-post office, one at the Handy Stores in the centre of Medstead and the other at Lymington Barns, on the border between Four Marks and South Medstead, Mr Seaton believes residents will be hoping it is the latter and he is urging residents to register their views by calling 07435 957587 and quoting sub-post office, reference number 1119044.