A DECISION to close a post office for more than two weeks due to a shortage of staff has been described as ‘scandalous’.

Bosses at Padiham’s Ramzan Foodstore have been told the shop's postmaster will not be replaced while the worker goes on holiday for two weeks between March 4 and March 20.

It means residents in Padiham and Hapton will have to travel nearly two miles out of the town to the nearest post office, in Rosegrove, to collect their pensions or to use banking services over the 14-day period.

Former Burnley councillor Jean Cunningham, who visits the Victoria Road Post Office weekly to collect her pension, described the situation as ‘scandalous’.

Apologising to customers, the Post Office has said they have been unable to find any support to keep the branch open.

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A spokesman said: “With the postmaster away, we can confirm that Victoria Road Post Office will be closed temporarily from March 4 to March 20.

"Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any support to ensure the branch can remain open during this short period.

"We sincerely apologise to customers for any inconvenience this will cause in the meantime.

"Post office services are available at nearby Rosegrove Post Office, which is less than a mile and a half away.”

The scheduled closure comes just two weeks after the town’s other post office, on Burnley Road, shut unannounced.

Ramzan’s shopkeeper Shahzad Ahmed Qadri, who runs the store with his brother Shahbaz, said he has spoken to the Post Office five times in the last three weeks as the brothers desperately tried to find a replacement.

The 42-year-old said: “It’s frustrating and it will be a big problem in the community."

Mr Qadri said people have become more reliant on the post office services provided at Ramzan because of the Burnley Road closure.

He said: “Our business runs off the Post Office and we get a lot of walking trade because of the service.

“It will be a big loss for our business. We have told the Post Office we need somebody here to keep it going because the postmaster is going on holiday.”

Mr Qadri also asked bosses if they would be allowed to provide more services, such as provision of vehicle licences and passport photos, because they are the only active post office in the town. Bosses at the Post Office told him it would not be possible, Mr Qadri said.

Ms Cunningham, who lost her seat on the borough council following last May's elections, said it was unacceptable to not find a replacement.

She said: “They can’t just close it without putting someone on. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“There are 4,000 people in Hapton and about 10,000 in Padiham. What are they going to do?

“It's unacceptable to have no post office facilities in the town for two weeks in Padiham and Hapton.”

Hapton councillor Joanne Greenwood said she was ‘disappointed’ about the way the post office have handled the situation.

The Labour councillor said: “They should be putting somebody in to keep it open.

“I find it really surprising, particularly because there are no other open post offices or banks that are nearby.

“It will have a big impact on the community and could have an impact on Ramzan as well.

“My concerns are more for the people who do not have a car and will have to trek out of town.

“It should be a priority for the post office and it’s disappointing the way they are dealing with it.”