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Communities react to Post Office cuts

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By Fiona Reid
Communities react to Post Office cuts

NEWS that four Dumfriesshire Post Offices will be axed later this year has sparked fury amongst affected residents.

CJ Lang and Sons, wholesaler of SPAR, confirmed last week that Gretna will cease trading on August 23, Eastriggs on September 23, Thornhill’s on August 12 and Georgetown in Dumfries on August 19.

It said it’s “not viable” to continue offering the services.

CEO Colin McLean said the decision had been “carefully considered” after 18 months of negotiations with Post Office bosses.

As well a backlash from local politicians, the move has been slammed by customers.

Gary Evans from Annan, who commutes to Gretna for work and gets paid weekly in cash, said the closure will have a “big effect” on him, commenting: “I normally go to the Spar post office in Gretna to deposit my wages as the Post Office is shut by time I finish work/get back to Annan. So it’s going to delay me being able to deposit wages into the bank.”

Alison Doyle said losing the Gretna branch will have a “great effect on the whole community”, pointing out that the elderly and those without their own car will be hit the hardest.

She added: “Surely something can be done before we lose another business in Gretna.”

Claire Campbell wrote: “I use the Georgetown Post Office regularly to top up our electricity key (our provider refuse to switch us to direct debit). I choose to use that Post Office as there’s enough space to socially distance compared to some others in town. Will have to find somewhere else to top up now, a great shame.”

Sarah Craig, who runs a business just outside Thornhill, called the closure of her local branch a “nightmare,” adding: “The post office was the only place I would use to deposit takings. Instead I will now have to drive into Dumfries and deposit at the bank, which doesn’t suit my working hours.”

Meanwhile, Dumfriesshire MP and MSP David and Oliver Mundell met senior Post Office management this week to discuss replacement services and reiterated the services “must be provided.

In a statement they said they were keeping a “completely open mind” about potential options, adding: “They could be provided either through other interested local businesses or through a community initiative.”

And yesterday, a Post Office spokesperson stressed the decision was taken solely by CJ Lang, adding: “Post Offices play an important role in the heart of local communities across Scotland and we have worked closely with CJ Lang for a number of months to help keep open essential Post Office services for their customers.

“At certain locations, there are nearby alternative Post Office branches, but we recognise that for some particularly older and disabled people they may not be easily accessible. We are actively looking for replacement solutions both on a temporary or permanent basis for all affected branches including Gretna and Eastriggs.”

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