Disappointment and Dismay at Post Office Closure – Unacceptable Unsuitable Alternatives for Vulnerable

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South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Post Office bosses to express her dismay at news that their counter service in Thornhill is set to close at noon on the 20th February.

An official statement from the Post Office promises that the closure is only temporary due to the current operating partner at Spar withdrawing from the contract. However, they also admit that no alternative service provider or premises has yet been identified.

The current facility provides the only over-the-counter service in Thornhill. The SNP MSP has asked bosses for reassurance that they’re doing everything they can to replace the facility as soon as possible.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“It’s deeply disappointing to learn, with just five week’s notice, that the partnership between the post office and Spar is set to end. This situation highlights how vulnerable public services are when they rely on third party private enterprises to decide when and if franchises are renewed. The UK Government, who own the Post Office, should intervene to prevent this.

“The Post Office suggests customers use alternative post offices in Penpont and Closeburn in the meantime. However, both are over two miles away on busy roads with no pavements. Given the risk of catching Covid on public transport, that is completely unacceptable.

The alternative provision cited is also restricted. One is open four hours a week and the other is only open in the mornings and has no disabled access. Clearly these are unsuitable alternatives for elderly and vulnerable constituents who rely on the service and insufficient for business users who post parcels, documents or banking items later in the day.

“Nearly all post offices in the region are now located in privately owned premises and are therefore, presumably, just as vulnerable as the Thornhill branch. If the same was to happen at the Spar at the Whitesands, it would leave the regions’ largest town in the dismal position of having no post-office at all in its town centre. This is just another example of what happens when short term profits are put before the need for public services.”