CHANDLER'S Ford residents won't be left without a post office over the Christmas period, as the Fryern Arcade branch is set to re-open next week.

The popular service was closed on Wednesday October 23 due to disputes over the postmaster position, which was met with overwhelming outrage from residents and councillors who described the short notice of the closure "completely unacceptable".

After pressure from the Chandler's Ford community, in the form of 1700 written signatures to save the service, the Post Office head office has announced the branch will return over the festive period.

A Post Office spokesperson said: "We are pleased to announce that Fryern Hill Post Office is due to re-open early next week.

"The precise date is being finalised. Fryern Hill Post Office will be operated by a temporary Postmaster whilst we continue to look for a permanent solution.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of Fryern Hill due to the resignation of the Postmaster, but we have been working hard to restore a service to the area as quickly as possible."

Aaron Joseph, who acted as the stand-in manager for a year before the closure, has allowed the Post Office to continue existing inside of his shop under the management of the temporary postmaster, until a permanent solution is found.

As previously reported on October 24, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Paula Ferguson and local councillors started the petition to save the service, and have been pressing the company to restore it over the peak posting time in the run up to Christmas.

She said: "I am absolutely delighted the post office has agreed to re-open the branch. The strength of the support from the community shows how much the service is valued and how important it is to residents. It's particularly important to those without transport, especially leading up to the bus Christmas period."

Steve Brine, the Conservative party candidate added: "This is still a very tricky situation and is with a temporary post-master but the important thing is we should have PO services back in the area for the Christmas period."

Councillor Tim Groves added: "The next month is critical for postal services so I am very pleased it's been restored. We will keep the petition going and will continue to campaign to get the services restored permanently in Chandlers Ford."