AT a time when many village post offices are under threat or already closed a community near Devizes is celebrating the opening of a new counter.

Businessman Siva Ragurparan, who bought the Costcutters store in West Lavington, last year has delighted villagers by bringing a post office back to the High Street.

On Tuesday he was joined by parish councillors, customers and his family as Wiltshire councillor Richard Gamble declared the new part of the shop open.

Also joining in the celebration was Lavinia Hinton whose husband Derek was the former postmaster. The old village post office closed in 2007 after Mr Hinton's death. His sisters Eileen and Cynthia Hinton were also there to witness the rebirth of the post office.

Last May Mr Ragurparan, known to his customers as Ragu, was worried about his business survival after it was revealed that the nearby Stage Post pub was to be turned into a supermarket.

He revealed then that he had plans to create a post office and on Tuesday he spoke of his delight at being part of the West Lavington community. He said: "I have loved being part of West Lavington for the past year. Everyone has made me so welcome."

No work has started on converting the pub and villagers have been kept in the dark about development plans by owners FPC (West Lavington).

Mr Gamble thanked Mr Ragurparan for his belief in the village and for bringing back the important service to the community.

He said: "Many people struggle to access such facilities in Devizes or elsewhere. The post office would also help bring customers to the shop.

"Key words these days are resilience and sustainability and the new post office will contribute to both."

Mr Gamble's wife Sandra, who is chairman of the parish council, said: "At a time when post offices are closing across the country, this re-opening is bucking the trend.

"It will benefit the local community, and, in particular, the elderly and disabled of the parish who have found it very difficult to access post office services during the nine year closure of our former post office following the death of Mr Hinton.

"From the outset the parish council supported Mr Raguparan's efforts to have the service re-instated but it is his perseverance that has made it happened.

"We and the villages of Littleton Panell and West Lavington are delighted to have it back."

The post office will be open from 6am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 7am to 9pm on Sundays. But it will not be fully operational until next week as a last minute electronic hitch has delayed connections to central services.