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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
'I'm not celebrating survival yet'
Postmaster Ken McPherson
Mr McPherson says he will continue to work until the future is clear
The Post Office has announced the first 180 branches earmarked for closure under government plans to shut 2,500 by the end of next year.

And so far, Ken McPherson's sub-post office, in Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, Kent, is not on the list.

But, with another six weeks of public consultation ahead before the final decisions are made on the closure of branches in the East Yorkshire area, the East Midlands and Kent, the 70-year-old postmaster is not yet heaving a sigh of relief.

"It is all very vague and they have got this consultation still to go," he says. "I am not taking anything for granted.

"I don't want to build up my hopes."

Ide Hill's absence from the list could be down to the support of more than 1,000 people who have signed a petition to keep the service open.

We haven't any choice but to wait
Ken McPherson

And Mr McPherson, who has been running the post office with his wife, Ann, for almost 25 years, believes it remains a crucial part of village life.

If shut, it "would be a big loss to the community," Mr McPherson says.

The couple have worked hard to build up their business since taking on the post office as a temporary measure while Mr McPherson, an engineering designer, waited for a new contract.

"I worked a lot overseas and had to leave my wife," he says. "The opportunity came along and we had to take the decision whether we should go for it. I decided I had been a bit selfish and opted to stay in the village.

"I don't regret it - it has been a very nice place to work."

But, while their post office has so far avoided the chop, the couple are not making any decisions about their future until they have confirmation in "black and white" that their business is not under threat.

Ide Hill Postores, near Sevenoaks, Kent
Ken and Ann McPherson have run Postores for almost 25 years

Mr McPherson, who is nearing retirement, wants to be certain their business has been saved before making financial plans.

This is something the couple have been waiting more than four years for - ever since rumours began that the government had plans to cut the country's network of post offices.

The government finally confirmed in May that a fifth of the UK's post offices were to close by 2009.

It says four million fewer people are using the current 14,000-strong network each week than two years ago, and losses have risen from 2 million a week in 2005 to 4 million a week last year.

This drop in customers is something Mr McPherson has seen first hand.

"Not that many people use it now, not like they used to. I guess they go elsewhere," he says.

"You could say business is erratic - some days are more busy than others. This Monday it was non-stop all morning, but then on another Monday, I may only see six customers."

The McPhersons are hoping their waiting will be repaid with good news in six weeks.

"We haven't any choice but to wait," Mr McPherson says. "They keep putting it back and back and back.

"But I can wait - I am a patient man."

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