Royal Mail may shut base office
RAF LAKENHEATH — When Staff Sgt. Jeremy Henderson needs to take care of his bill business, he walks around the corner from Lakenheath’s American post office to its British counterpart.
With one stop, he’s got his local financial obligations squared away.
“I use it every month to pay my bills,” Henderson said of the small British Royal Mail office, which is also full of candy, snacks and other items.
“It’s a big convenience,” Henderson said, “and you can pay all your British bills here.”
That might not be the case come next year. Royal Mail is reviewing the operations of these small sub-offices, and may eliminate up to 2,500 next year in the name of making the entire operation more lucrative.
This potential closure has been on the mind of Les Pope, to say the least. He operates the British post office on Lakenheath, a base fixture for 50 years and the only one of its kind on England air bases used by the U.S. Air Force.
“This office has been notified that it is a possible one to close,” Pope said last week. “It’s not cast in concrete yet.”
Unlike the U.S. postal system, Pope is basically a small-business owner, operating the Lakenheath outlet and getting paid by commissions he earns on services provided.
“A lot of Americans don’t realize there are multiple services,” he said. Customers can pay bills, re-up their car tax, buy cell phone top-up cards and get a variety of other needs taken care of with one stop, and Pope said he wants people to be aware of what the post office can do for them.
“I’ve had guys say, ‘we didn’t even know you were here,’” Pope said.
The office also sells euros and takes payments in dollars, he said.
Pope said he hopes the Air Force will step up on his behalf and let reviewers know about the benefits of his operation.
Base representatives did not respond by Stripes’ deadline last week whether they will intercede on Pope’s behalf.
Pope got into the post office business a few years ago after a career as an electrical engineer.
“It has its moments of enjoyment, it has its moments of frustration,” he said of operating the post.
A decision on his shop’s fate will be handed down in January, and Pope is awaiting the decision and hoping to corral more Americans in the door.
“If people don’t use it, they’ll lose it,” he said.