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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Locals buy their corner shop
The village shop in Blaenplwyf, near Aberystwyth
A buy-out by customers has saved the store
Residents of mid Wales village have joined forces to prevent their local shop and post office from closing down.

The community of Blaenplwyf, near Aberystwyth, is one of scores across Wales struggling to find its place in the rural economy.

The postman arrives in Blaenplwyf, near Aberystwyth
The postman can still collect from the store's letterbox

That effort seemed in jeopardy when a buyer could not be found for the store which has operated in the village for more than a century.

But with the help of European grant aid to form a limited company, they have bought the shop which also houses their Post Office.

With the rural economy still struggling, Blaenplwyf villagers hope their Siop y Parc project is a sign of better times ahead.

A total of 11 villagers are behind the community buy-out which has been backed with Objective One cash.

They have set up a volunteer rota to stock the shelves and serve the customers calling in for groceries or to use the Post Office.

The shop at Blaenplwyf, near Aberystwyth
The store offers the chance for customers to chat

It means the postman will continue to make collections from the letterbox at the store - a development welcomed by the lobby group Post Watch Wales.

The future of many rural post offices continues to be in doubt after Consignia, the new name for the Post Office, announced it plans to cut 30,000 jobs over the next three years.

It has said the high cost of maintaining branches in remote rural areas was part of the reason for its financial troubles.

Rural communities in Wales have been urged to do more to protect their local store and post office services.

In February, the Country Land and Business Association in Wales launched a "post a picture postcard" campaign in an attempt to shore up the mail service for rural areas ahead of possible privatisation plans.

And the Prince of Wales has suggested rural communities should "make the pub the hub" in any attempt to diversify their economy.

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