As the UK government and Royal Mail prepare to announce the closure of thousands of post offices across the country, Texaco has offered a lifeline to these communities.

Peter Oakford, Texaco’s UK retail regional manager, said: “Clearly, it is a sad day when an area loses its local post office but the days when the service station was just about fuel are long gone and our retailers now provide most of the things people need each day in a convenient location. Indeed, having a service station nearby is essential for the poor, elderly, the infirm and people who don’t own a car, to access facilities in the nearest big town or city.”

He said the decline in the number of post offices by about 4,000 over the past seven years, had caused problems for a lot of people, particularly in smaller, more rural areas. Many of these communities had also seen the loss of other high street businesses including banks, grocers, off-licences and newsagents.

However, in towns and villages across the country, the local service station has helped to plug the gap.

Oakford said Texaco was a major supporter of small businesses, as all of its 1,100 UK service stations were independently owned: “In the past few years, the services provided by these stations have expanded rapidly and customers can now access a number of services previously provided by their post office.”

Around 80% of Texaco-branded service stations have ATM machines or provide a cashback service. The same amount also sell stamps and offer mobile phone top-ups. For people worried about paying their bills, more than 500 Texaco service stations now have Paypoint and Payzone facilities enabling customers to pay their utility bills and TV licence. In some cases, the service station has a post office counter in-store with a post box outside.