VITAL services at Sherston Post Office Stores are to stay after Post Office bosses had a change of heart.

It was to become a local style branch under the organisation’s transformation programme, which would have meant residents having to travel to Malmesbury or Tetbury if they wanted to tax their cars in person or use some banking and foreign exchange services.

But the Post Office has decided to retain it as a traditional branch. The shop moved into the Old School building just two years ago following a £1 million project by the village to create a commercial centre.

A relieved postmaster Paul Mather said the branch was integral to community and any loss of service would have been a huge blow to the village because the nearest main branches at Tetbury and Malmesbury are both five miles away.

“This was reiterated by Prince Charles during his recent visit and was one of the main drivers for supporting The Old School Project with the Prince’s Countryside Fund.,” he explained.

“It would have been a pity that so soon after his investment and visit, services provided would have been severely cut.

“I am delighted that the importance of Sherston Post Office to the village has now been recognised by the Post Office.”

He added that the decision would enable the busy store to keep a wide range of products and maintain a high level of service to customers.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray also welcomed the announcement. “I was so pleased to hear that Post Office Ltd have re-assessed the proposed status of Sherston Post Office and have now re-designated it as a "community" office, thereby protecting its existing services.”

The Post Office has embarked on a £1.34 billion government-funded modernisation programme of its 11,500 branches nationwide over four years. Some smaller branches have been designated local and have lost more complex services but are offering longer opening hours.