The UK Government has been condemned after it emerged that a fourth post office is set to close in Dumfries and Galloway.
The Eastriggs counter, operated by the SPAR in Melbourne Avenue, will close on the 7th March according to the store manager. The closure comes on top of recent announcements that branches in Thornhill, Gretna and Georgetown in Dumfries are also closing their post offices in February. SPAR say the operations are no longer viable.
South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has been campaigning to keep the branches open and has written to bosses at Post Office Ltd and CJ Lang who own SPAR. She has also written to the UK Government who still own Post Office Ltd to urge them to intervene.
The Post Office website is currently advertising for partners to set up alternative services, but with fees ranging from just £4700, Ms McAlpine thinks the task of finding anyone to run them will be impossible. She says she fears there could still be more closures to come and has concerns that the UK Government no longer consider post offices to be an essential service.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,
“Post Office Ltd had been in touch to confirm that Thornhill, Georgetown and Gretna would be closing and promised the Post Office on the Whitesands would not be affected. They made no mention of Eastriggs.
“So to find out it’s earmarked for closure is deeply disappointing and very worrying – what else is in the pipeline that they’re not telling us about? There are post office outlets in grocery stores across Dumfries and Galloway including at Port William and Locharbriggs. How can we be confident that their futures are secure? I warned ministers back in 2013 that the so called “modernisation” programme of moving Crown Post Offices into private retail outlets was a mistake as this would be the outcome.
“Let’s not kid ourselves that these closures will be temporary. Small rural communities don’t have a queue of alternative grocery outlets lining up to provide Post Office services and even if they did, the miserly fees on offer make them totally unviable, as proved by this situation with SPAR.
“I’m now calling on the UK Government and Post Office Ltd to review how they fund post office provision as a matter of urgency before these services are lost forever.”
Notes – link to advert for post office partner for Eastriggs – runapostoffice.co.uk/branch/eastriggs-post-office-annan-dg12-6pp <runapostoffice.co.uk/branch/eastriggs-post-office-annan-dg12-6pp>