A community group in the Howe of Fife has launched a fight to save its village shop.
Dunshalt’s only shop closed recently and its owner has since applied to turn the building into a private house.
However, villagers concerned about the impact on the community, particularly on its elderly residents, have objected to the proposal and are calling for more time to explore the option of taking over the building and running it as a community shop instead.
In a letter to local councillor David MacDiarmid, Dunshalt Community Steering Group co-ordinator Eleanor Porter said a high number of villagers are very concerned about the loss of the shop and its Post Office.
She added: “We have been trying to arrange a meeting with a representative of Fife Voluntary Action who were involved in advising on the purchase of a community asset in Newburgh.
“With holidays and illness this has proved challenging but we are planning to go ahead with this in the next few weeks.
“In the meantime, the current owners of the shop have made a planning application to Fife Council, seeking permission to convert the shop premises into a house.
“The steering group have made an objection to the application citing loss of amenity as the main cause for complaint.
“The loss of the only shop in Dunshalt will have a huge impact on the village community.
“A number of villagers are elderly and rely on the shop and Post Office.
“Without it, villagers cannot buy even basic groceries or post a parcel without making a car journey or using public transport.
“It has also provided the only social hub in the village, where villagers can meet and chat.”
Mrs Porter added that villages had been informed by the owner that there was external interest in taking the shop on as a going concern when the building was put on the market.
“The village was very hopeful that someone would indeed take on the shop and run it as a business,” she added.
“The steering group was formed when it was clear that the shop was not going to be sold and quickly closed.
“The group would now like a period of time to examine what would be involved in purchasing the shop premises to run a shop which generates income that is invested in the community, and whether we can generate the resources to do this.”
Councillor MacDiarmid said the shop was the only source of contact some local people had.
He added: “It was bad enough when school closed but the shop was the heart and hub of community and the only place to meet people.
“I have always felt, that due to the size of Dunshalt, a corner shop and post office should never fail, but it needs the support of the community.
“It is a fact of life in these economic times that if you don’t use it, you will lose it.”
North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins has picked up the mantle and is due to meet with the steering group soon.
“The shop has clearly been at the heart of the Dunshalt community and the loss of such a lifeline service is already being felt,” he stressed.
“Having access to basic groceries and Post Office services are very important in rural communities and I hope every option will be looked at in this case.”