THE owner of two post offices is pleading with residents to only visit branches if it is essential.

Huw Hilditch-Roberts runs the main post offices in Denbigh and Ruthin.

He closed his Denbigh branch on Friday (March 27). The Ruthin branch is now operating on reduced hours.

On Friday, he witnessed a queue from the Ruthin post office to HSBC bank.

The county councillor is urging residents to observe social distance measures and the UK government's advice to stay at home unless it is absolutely essential, stressing that essentials do not include buying one stamp.

Cllr Hilditch-Roberts, lead member for education and children's services in Denbighshire, said: "I've have to protect the staff. I have taken them out. It is my intention to man the Ruthin Post Office myself.

"The footfall in Denbigh has nosedived but the footfall in Ruthin hasn't. On Friday morning there was a queue to HSBC.

"These are two main post offices.

"I am permitting one person in and one person out at a time.

"I'd like to say to people, please please think and qualify why you are coming out and how essential it is.

"It you are coming out to buy just one stamp, then that is not essential."

The businessman took over the post office in Ruthin in 2016 and the one in Denbigh towards the end of 2017.

Denbigh Post Office is set to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Ruthin closed on Saturday and did not open on Saturday morning.

It is now operating on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays on reduced hours between 10am and 1pm.

Cllr Hilditch-Roberts said he had to take action in response to the coronavirus measures, capacity of staff and a lack of financial support from the Post Office nationally.

“We are a franchise so we are a transaction based business, therefore we are paid by the transaction but with the downturn in business there is no additional support,” he said.

“If business is down then it is no longer sustainable."

When asked how long he intends on providing the essential service, the councillor added: "As long as I am able to manage, I will carry on.

"If there is any intervention from the Post Office Ltd financially then we will be able to extend the staff.

"I just want to stress to people to justify why you are coming out. We are two main post offices but is the visit essential?

“We look forward to getting back to full capacity in the future when all this is over.”

Post Offices have been designated as an essential service by the government.

Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, said: "We continue to thank our postmasters for keeping their branches open where possible and serving their communities.

"Many Post Offices have floor markers and other information on posters to help customers stay two metres apart. Additional protective equipment is also being sourced for postmasters."