A POSTMASTER who claims to have spent thousands of pounds of his own money to survive the Horizon scandal is retiring from the role this year, and expects his Post Office to close as a result.

Chris Dubery, who runs the Dulverton Post Office, is set to hang up his hat in September when he plans to retire from the business.

Mr Dubery’s wife, Christine, retired in December last year, leaving him and a single member of staff - who is set to retire in September - to run the village’s Post Office on a reduced-hours basis.

The husband and wife team had been advertising for someone to take over the business since March 2023, but have had little interest and believes theirs will be the latest in a long string of Post Office closures across West Somerset.

Mr and Mrs Dubery may have been victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal, which saw sub postmasters wrongly accused and convicted of stealing from the Post Office as a result of errors in the Fujitsu software used to balance the books for the state-owned company.

Mr Dubery said that over the years he had shelled out around £3,000 to make up shortfalls, which he now suspects were a result of computer errors. “I always made good the cash, I filled it out of my own pocket because that’s what you had to do.” he said.

 Dulverton postmaster Chris Duberry
Dulverton postmaster Chris Dubery (George Ody)

Speaking about the future of the village’s Post Office, Mr Dubery said he felt there was little prospect of it continuing to exist after he exits the business later this year. Speaking to the West Somerset Free Press he said: “The Post Office is only open in the mornings because it’s not viable. If someone takes it on the Post Office will want it open 46 hours a week.

“To be honest I didn’t have much hope it in selling it. To make matters worse the future of our Royal Mail delivery office is uncertain, it’s not an attractive prospect.

“The Post Office scandal has made it less attractive for people to look at, the Post Office has no money, no direction, nothing to attract people. The people in charge haven’t a clue.

“I don’t see us finding a buyer by September, the Post Offices in Lynton, Wellington and Watchet have all closed and I fear Dulverton is next.”

Despite a recent enquiry, Mr Dubery said that because of the complexities associated with taking on the business, he expected it would now close. He said: “You never know, we have had an enquiry but these things can take eight months to complete.”

Mr Durbery, who owns the building, speculated that he could be forced to apply to convert the building into two homes, following a decision by Somerset Council to permit the former Post Office in Bishops Lydeard to be converted into housing.

He said: “I will try and find someone to rent it out to, if there is no alternative it could become houses. It’s no good being empty.”