The Post Office has announced it is facing a challenge in Fife, with yet another branch closing within weeks.
Leuchars Post Office will be the ninth to close in the region in less then a year when the postmaster retires on June 30.
It follows the loss of branches in Newport, St Andrews, Ladybank, Balmullo, East Wemyss and Thornton last year.
Burntisland post office then shut at the end of January, before bosses announced Wormit will close on May 24
The string of closures are all described as temporary by the Post Office.
But while part-time outreach services have been introduced in some communities, no permanent operator has been found for any of the branches.
Leuchars Post Office closure ‘deeply concerning’
Tay Bridgehead councillor Jonny Tepp’s ward will have lost four post offices by the time Leuchars shuts.
He described the announcement as deeply concerning.
“Leuchars Post Office provides the community with many important services which will be sorely missed,” said the Liberal Democrat councillor.
“This will be the fourth in a string of closures in the ward.”
And North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie described the latest announcement as “yet another blow to communities”.
“The Post Office needs to redouble its efforts and think seriously about what it will take to restore the branches and prevent further closures,” he said.
“It’s all very well to say the closures are temporary but without real and concrete action that is meaningless.”
Burntisland Post Office ‘key to the High Street’
Labour MSP Claire Baker is of a similar view.
The Mid Scotland and Fife representative described Burntisland Post Office as a key part of the High Street.
We have lost far too many post offices.”
Claire Baker MSP.
And she added: “We have lost far too many local post offices from our smaller towns in recent years.
“Alongside the closure of bank branches, it has left many people without key services in their communities.”
‘There are challenges we face in Fife’
A Post Office spokesman said 99% of of Scotland’s population lived within three miles of an open branch.
He added however: “We recognise there are challenges we face in the Fife area.
“We want to assure residents and businesses that we are continuing to prioritise identifying and securing appropriate replacement sites for branches that have closed.”
In the meantime Leuchars will be served by a temporary outreach service in the church hall, run by the postmaster in Dairsie.
“We are finalising the launch details of this temporary solution and will inform the local community as soon as we can,” said the spokesman.
The Dairsie postmaster also visits St Andrews, Balmillo, Newport and Ladybank while a permanent base is sought.
However, the news is more positive in Burntisland with the Post Office in the early stages of bringing a new postmaster on board.
“We hope to share more details with the local community in the coming weeks,” the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, it is hoped a new operator will be found for Wormit before May 24 so there is no gap in service.
Why are so many post offices closing?
Last year, Spar Scotland announced it was closing 31 of its post office counters across Scotland.
These included six in Fife, two in Perthshire and one in Dundee.
It said the counters were loss-making and their closure was the only way to keep the stores operating.
In Burntisland, the leaseholder’s contract ended in January and was not renewed.
And in Wormit, the postmaster resigned and Spar again withdrew its premises for use.
In 2020, Glenrothes lost five post office branches within six months when RS McColl closed several stores.
And Dunfermline’s Halbeath branch also shut.
Many retailers have said it is not worthwhile to provide post office services due to lack of financial reward.
And the Horizon scandal which saw 700 branch managers given criminal convictions due to faulty accounting software, has not helped.
Willie Rennie said: “The string of closures over the last year show clearly that the Post Office’s offer to postmasters and the businesses which host branches simply isn’t good enough.”