The postmaster at Meltham Post Office which is at the centre of a staff dispute has been completely backed by its trustees.
The office is operated by the Carlile Institute Community Interest Company at its Huddersfield Road building, but two Post Office staff walked out last week in protest at HMRC tax and stationery bills and alleged issues involving staff payments, holiday entitlements and a pension scheme.
Now the trustees of Meltham Carlile CIC have produced a strongly worded statement which totally backs Mr Noon.
It states: “Last year saw Government changes in funding to Post Offices which resulted in the closure of the former Post Office in Holmfirth Road.
“Richard Noon and Christian Markham, working on a purely voluntary basis, were hugely instrumental in setting up the new community Post Office, housed in the Carlile Institute, itself now owned by the community of Meltham. The project has the backing of the Meltham Carlile CIC (Community Interest Company) and Meltham Town Council.
“The Trustees of the Meltham Carlile CIC (Clr Kate Buchanan, Clr Charles Greaves, Bob Irwin, Steve Lamb, Eva O’Donovan, Robert Pepper, Clr Paul White and Clr Jean Wrathall) are completely behind and in total support of Richard Noon and Chris Markham.
“We are very saddened by the Post Office staff’s decision to withdraw their labour from the community Post Office despite the fact that the Post Office remains open. It is to be hoped they will reflect on their actions and return to serve their community. This is especially so when all their concerns were in the process of being resolved. We are, of course, committed to retaining Post Office services in Meltham and will work with everyone to ensure they continue.”
Mr Noon said: “The debt to the HMRC has been paid and the amount we owe to the stationery provider is in hand – everything will be paid.
“It’s unfortunate about what has happened regarding our stationery provider but we have found someone who can supply it to us cheaper. And concerning the other claims, staff will be getting sent a letter regarding those issues.”
Mr Noon said the company’s accounts will also be made public.
“People can access these anyway but we will make them public so that people can see nothing has been done wrong,” he added.
The Post Office closed for one day last Tuesday but has opened every day since then with the Post Office’s business manager Ivar Smethurst and drafted-in staff.
As previously reported, Mr Noon said that he and the Post Office business manager Ivar Smethurst had been in discussions with councillors about how to make the Post Office work for several months.
One Holme Valley North councillor, Charles Greaves of the Green and Valley Independent Group, stressed his and other members of the Carlile Institute’s support for Mr Noon.
“It’s a bit disappointing that this situation has happened as we had almost concluded the issues,” he said.
“He’s put a lot of time into this – I don’t know what he could have done to make it better.
“We are on the home straight to ensure we can keep it for the future.”