A POST office, near Winchester , will be closing due to the owners of 23 years retiring and no one else stepping forward to take it over.

Kings Worthy Post Office and shop has been open near the Cart and Horses junction since 1974 but will now be closing at the end of January.

The unit has been on the market for the past six months but with no interest, owners BK Kaur and his wife have been forced to close as they prepare for retirement after working 12 hours a day, seven days a week for the past 23 years.

Mr Kaur said: “We feel like we’ve put in our time. It’s mixed emotions, I feel sad to an extent but at the same time I look forward to retiring. I haven’t been on holiday in forever and it will be nice to have no commitments, not be bound to anything and have time to myself without the worries of the Post Office.

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“In the current climate it will be hard to replace the post office. Costs have increased and we weren’t able to find enough staff to deliver newspapers. No one wants to take it on, so we’ve been forced to close.

“Our customers are very sympathetic and understanding that we have given our time. They fully understand that.”

Cllr Jackie Porter said: "Sangita and BK have worked so hard and we wish them well in their retirement. Thanks to everyone else who works in their team too. Many of us are grateful to Geoff Brown who delivered our papers."

The Post Office's network provision lead, Graham Brander, addressed a letter to reassure customers that they are trying to replace the service and the vacancy is still being advertised at runapostoffice.co.uk/ .

The letter read: "We are currently investigating the options available which will enable us to reinstate a Post Office service to the local community. In exploring this, it is important that any future service is sustainable for the person operating the service, and for Post Office Limited.

"Future provision will reflect customer numbers and usage and we may take the opportunity to establish an alternative type of service. This may be a local-style branch that runs alongside an established retail shop in newly refurbished premises and creates a more modern and convenient experience for customers."

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Cllr Jane Rutter said: "We are pleased that the Post Office is working hard to find new takers for the business. I know that it was marketed for a few months as a going concern but that has not had any takers yet.

"We are very keen that we should retain a post office here, as it can be a lifeline for local people, but in the meantime, we are fortunate to have a second Post Office in the village in Fraser Road, at the Springvale Stores, a great shop run by a family totally committed to supporting their local community.

"The closure follows a very delayed decision to retire by the current postmasters, who have given long and faithful service to the community over many years, and the love and respect in which they are held is demonstrated by the sum which is being raised for their retirement through the donation site set up by Liz Kavanagh."

So far the fundraiser, organised by Liz Kavanagh of Winchester Magazine has raised more than £1,700 from nearly 70 people, to wish BK and his wife Sangita a happy retirement. The couple will continue to live above the Post Office until the unit is sold.

Dower House nursing home manager Celia Bailey said: "We have used Kings Worthy Post Office for delivering our residents newspapers for many years. They have always been extremely accommodating and helpful in ensuring our papers are delivered on time and they have always helped with the many changes that occur.

"We will miss the prompt friendly service, and we are on the lookout for another local newsagent to take on the task."

Although the closure could prove inconvenient to local residents, traffic flow along London Road might improve.

For more on the fundraiser go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kingsworthypostofficeretirementgift .