JAMES Arbuthnot MP cut a ribbon with a huge pair of scissors to open a new sub-post office in Church Crookham.

Graham Brown, owner of the Londis food store in Ridgeway Parade, The Verne, bought the business last month on the retirement of Melvyn Pennell.

The service has been hailed a success by locals who are delighted that the post office is now open from 8am-10pm including weekends.

Mr Brown is excited about his new venture and delighted that he has secured the post office for the residents of Church Crookham.

He said: "I think it is very important that we have not lost the post office in Church Crookham, because it would have closed.

"Consignia is trying to shut down a number of units. I have given it a new lease of life and brought it into the 21st century.

"I am offering better opening hours and therefore the customers have got better access and service."

Colin Woodbridge, area manager for the post office, was equally excited.

"Strong partnerships are invaluable in securing a viable post office network," he said.

"I am delighted that local customers are being offered continued and improved access to services that they can trust."

Mr Arbuthnot mingled with shoppers and enjoyed a slice of celebratory cake in the store, which was decked out with balloons and streamers.

He stressed it was vital that the post office was secured for the community.

He said: "This seems a really effective new service that the post office and Londis can give. It means local people get a much better service than they used to have because Londis is open for much longer hours.

"It is better for the shop because it brings more people in who may spend money, and it is better for the post office as people are able to get their services at a time when they may not have been able to.

"Everyone benefits from the new service that I hope forms an example for other local shops. I have enjoyed being at this development."

Mr Pennell is moving to Cornwall this month. He said: "I have been here for nearly seven years and would like to say a big thank you to all my customers for their support and loyalty in that time.

"I trust they will continue to support Graham at the new sub-post office."

He added: "From the moment we came here the people of Church Crookham made me feel very welcome."