Bellingham post office is back in service at last

A VILLAGE sub-postmistress has spoken of her relief after computer problems which saw her business forced out of service over Christmas were solved.

Wendy and Les Telfer owners of Bellingham News and Post Office
Wendy and Les Telfer owners of Bellingham News and Post Office

A VILLAGE sub-postmistress has spoken of her relief after computer problems which saw her business forced out of service over Christmas were solved.

Wendy Telfer yesterday thanked The Journal for helping spark action to restore the post office service in Bellingham, Northumberland – and said she will be seeking compensation from BT for the business she lost during the disruption. We revealed last week how the village post office had to shut down on December 17 after losing its vital broadband connection.

It caused chaos for the combined post office and village shop which Mrs Telfer runs with her husband Les.

They lost the post office connection after BT engineers installed a new phone line and broadband service in the tenanted flat above the Parkside Place business.

That meant the post office’s Horizon IT system – which is used for a wide range of automated services and transactions – could not be used, meaning staff were unable to pay out pensions or benefits, accept council tax payments and provide other services which rely on the broadband connection.

After The Journal raised the issue with BT last Thursday, the company acted quickly and was able to re-establish the post office broadband connection within 24 hours.

An engineer from Fujitsu, which designed the Horizon system, visited the post office last Friday and was able to fix the problem.

Mrs Telfer, 59, who has been sub-postmistress since 2010, said yesterday: “We are now back to normal, thank goodness, but I don’t think we would have been back on so quickly if it hadn’t been for the help from the media.

“Eleven days is a long time for the post office to be out of service, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. We are very busy over the Christmas period, with people wanting their money out and to pay bills.

“We could have pulled our hair out in frustration, and it was terrible having to explain to everyone that we couldn’t offer a service without the broadband. I will certainly be looking to BT for some compensation for the business we lost. All it took was an engineer from Fujitsu to come out and reconnect our broadband router, so it didn’t take much putting right.”

The couple say the problem arose after BT installed broadband in the flat above their shop. The post office computers started to slow down and the service was lost completely on December 17.

A BT spokesman said an investigation was being carried out into why there was such a delay in reconnecting the post office’s broadband service.

 
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