Politicians of all political hues have united in a bid to save our Post Offices.
MSPs from all parties have backed a motion to the Scottish Parliament expressing “deep concern” at the imminent closure of 31 Post Office counters across Scotland.
The list includes nine counters within Spar stores in Tayside and Fife.
The motion lodged by Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley comes as hundreds of Fifers continue to protest the shock announcement by Spar owner CJ Lang last week.
Communities cannot be left without Post Offices
Mr Rowley’s motion calls on Parliament to express its concern and disappointment at the move, which follows 18 months of negotiation with the Post Office.
He said Post Offices provide a vital service to communities by providing a place to pay bills, collect benefits, drop off parcels and buy stamps.
“Communities cannot be left stranded without access to the essential services provided,” he said.
Mr Rowley needs cross-party support for his motion before a debate can be secured.
And he already has support from MSPs whose constituencies will be hit.
North East Fife bearing the brunt
Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie’s North East Fife constituency is bearing the brunt of the decision, with four Post Offices facing the axe there.
He was one of the first to the motion and will meet Post Office bosses next week to discuss possible alternative locations for services.
“The petition is going great guns,” he said.
“There are paper copies doing the rounds as well as the online version and there’s a head of steam building up.”
Affected Post Offices
The Tayside stores are:
- Menzieshill in Dundee
The Fife stores are:
- East Wemyss
- St Andrews Tom Morris Drive.
SNP MSP David Torrance, who represents both Thornton and East Wemyss, also pledged to get behind the community by backing the motion.
“I’m fully supportive of it,” he said. “It’s worth co-operating to get the end result our communities deserve.”
Post Offices ‘hugely important’ in Perthshire
In Perthshire, Deputy First Minister John Swinney and SNP MSP Jim Fairley declared their backing, saying the issue “needs to be aired”.
Government ministers are not allowed to sign motions but Mr Swinney made it clear he is “hugely concerned” about the impending closures.
“I will continue to strongly advocate against these closures and highlight the hugely important role that Post Offices play in rural Perthshire communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser agreed that axing branches would have a massive impact.
The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP added: “Post Office facilities are the lifeline of small communities.”
Some 17 million customers across the UK use Post Office services, including a third of small businesses.
Closures are ‘unfortunate but necessary’
Spar says the closures are unfortunate but necessary to ensure the affected stores remain open.
“This decision has been carefully considered and comes after 18 months of negotiation 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.”
He added that the services in the affected stores were all making a loss.
The Post Office says it is concerned about the impact of the move, particularly on elderly customers.
It has pledged to seek alternative solutions for each of the branches that close.