THE incoming postmaster for the Upper Dales has unveiled a plan to reintroduce services to villages hit by Post Office cutbacks.

Councillor John Blackie is set to take on the role from May, following Upper Wensleydale Community Partnership voting to run a post office at the Community Office in Hawes, a sorting office in the town’s business park and outreach services in Askrigg and Bainbridge.

The move follows the retirement of Hawes postmaster Steve Reynolds, whose departure left residents facing a 17-mile drive to the nearest post office.

Councillor Blackie said he would aim to relaunch post office services in some of the 11 villages where sub-post offices had closed over the past 17 years.

He said: “We will not be able to go back to them all, but hope to roll back the service to some of them and will look at West Burton and Muker in the near future.

“This will protect or create ten jobs in Hawes, which is no mean feat in an area with few remaining public sector jobs.”

The post office will offer all the existing postal services available in the town and be open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

More than 120 residents attending a public meeting of the partnership heard it was unlikely the Community Office would become a target for criminals, as it had served as a local collecting office for Richmondshire District Council for 15 years without an issue and was also home to the town’s police station.

Coun Blackie said: “Clearly there are issues about staff security and we will make sure the necessary steps are taken.”