Cononley Post Office and Shop will be purchased by the community – if a private purchaser does not step forward.

Villagers attending a public meeting on Thursday voted unanimously to form a steering group and to go ahead with a community purchase of the premises.

The move followed a recent survey, which had 200 replies and indicated an overwhelming support for keeping a shop and post office in the village.

There has also been a massive response from volunteers who are keen to be involved in the steering committee, to help with fundraising and publicity and to potentially buy shares in a community company to raise the funds to purchase the shop.

It has been agreed that if a private purchaser is found, the community will step back.

Parish council chairman Coun Lois Brown said: “It’s fantastic the way that the community has responded to this and we are very hopeful that the shop and post office will continue in Cononley, whether in private or community hands.”

The meeting heard from parish clerk Stephanie Wheelhouse about the initial research, visits to other shops and the work that had been done to get to this point.

Kate Harrison, a mentor from the Plunkett Foundation which supports co-operatives in ventures such as buying local shops and pubs, spoke about the experiences of other community shops.

The current owner, Marion Wilcock, said the Post Office had given a written commitment to staying in Cononley.

The next step will be for the parish council to contact those who gave their details and to form a steering committee with the right skill set. A number of sub-committees will consider topics such as the corporate structure, supply chains and financing for the shop.

Anyone else who thinks they may be able to contribute should contact the clerk on 01535 631094 or e-mail uk. The steering group is expected to hold its first meeting within a month.