Fifers are rallying in support of a campaign to save their local Post Offices.
Hundreds of people signed a petition against moves to axe Post Office counters at six Spar stores across the region, within hours of its launch.
The decision by the CJ Lang Spar group has caused deep concern among affected communities, with fears many people will be left without lifeline services.
And they are now calling for a u-turn to ensure all the “vital” counters are retained.
The affected Fife branches are Balmullo, Ladybank, Newport-on Tay, St Andrews Tom Morris Drive, Thornton and East Wemyss.
Three Tayside branches are also among the 31 Post Office counters closing – they are in Luncarty and Stanley in Perthshire and Menzieshill in Dundee.
All will close in the next six months.
Call to protect Post Office services
North East Fife MP Willie Rennie and MP Wendy Chamberlain launched the campaign immediately after Wednesday’s announcement.
Spar says the the decision followed 18 months of negotiation with the Post Office.
It says closing the loss-making counters will ensure the stores remain open,
But the Liberal Democrat politicians want the retailer to reverse the move and keep the services.
And so far, they have the support of more than 500 local people who have signed up to the cause.
Any closures have big consequences,”
Wendy Chamberlain MP.
Mr Rennie said he was “deeply concerned” by Spar’s Post Office closures.
“I’ve already called their chief executive to discuss how we protect the services in these stores,” he said,
“We will also be speaking to the Post Office group to make sure everything that can be done happens in order to keep the counters in these communities.”
Ms Chamberlain said Post Office counters are at the heart of communities.
“Any closures have big consequences,” she said.
“That’s why my Lib Dem colleagues and I have launched this petition calling on the Post Office and Spar to maintain these services.
“More needs to be done to ensure viable Post Office and other vital access to cash services can be provided to communities across North East Fife.”
Is the Post Office fit for purpose?
Meanwhile, the Post Office closures announcement has also prompted anger elsewhere in Fife.
In the Glenrothes area, Post Office counters have already closed in Pitteuchar, Markinch and Leslie and the loss of the Thornton branch comes as a further blow.
The town’s SNP councillor Ross Vettraino said: “That, together with Post Office wrongfully prosecuting 736 sub-postmasters leads one to wonder if the Post Office is fit for purpose.
“The Post Office is a service which is fundamental to our way of life.
“There may be fewer people using it just now, perhaps because of the pandemic, but whatever the reason, stopping the service in places such as Thornton is not the answer.”
Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley previously said people should consider whether they continue to shop at Spar, given its decision.
Spar says closures are necessary
Spar said the move was unfortunate but necessary to ensure the affected stores remain open.
“This decision has been carefully considered and comes after 18 months of negotiations with Post Office Limited,” said a spokesperson.
“It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in the position of having to change the services we offer over the next six months.
This decision has been carefully considered.”
“This is representative of the industry-wide pressures on retail outlets as we evolve to keep up with changing consumer habits.”
The Post Office said it was concerned about the impact of the decision on elderly customers.
And it has pledged to seek alternative solutions for each of the branches that close.