October 22, 2008
Councils urged to save local post offices
As the full impact of the closure programme begins to bite, local campaigns to keep these vital local services open are spreading across the country. Campaigners in Kildrum, Banton and Queenzieburn have pointed to the successful buy out of a closed post office by Essex County Council and argue that North Lanarkshire Council should follow suit. Glasgow City Council are reported to be considering a similar move
Recent campaigns against the proposed closure of the sub post offices at Kildrum, Banton and Queenzieburn have failed to save these community facilities.
The Post Office’s decision has been widely condemned locally, with many saying their public consultation exercise has been exposed as a sham.
But this week campaigners vowed the battle is not over yet.
NORTH Lanarkshire Council was this week urged to save the three Post Office branches.
Central Scotland MSP Jamie Hepburn said the authority should consider following the example of an English county council which successfully took over a branch post
office which had been axed.
He said that in Essex, the county council successfully took over Buckhurst Hill branch, on the outskirts of Epping Forest, after it had originally been closed by Post Office Ltd.
Glasgow City Council is also reported to be considering a similar move for redundant branches, he said.
The SNP List MSP added: “I have written to North Lanarkshire Council, asking them to urgently consider what options are available to them and whether they can save any of these Post Office branches.
“Local Post Offices are vital community assets, not simply commercial operations, and the local authority has a responsibility to make sure communities have the facilities they deserve.
“A council in England has successfully pioneered the operation of a Post Office, saving it from the ‘network change’ axe, and I hope North Lanarkshire Council has the ambition and ingenuity to take action in its area.”
Constituency MSP Cathie Craigie called the loss of local post offices “devastating news” but said she is determined to make sure Cumbernauld and Kilsyth post offices will be improved to the point that they can cope with increased customers.
Mrs Craigie said: “I know this will be devastating news to the residents of Banton, Kildrum, and Queenzieburn. They have turned out at the public meetings and have contributed fully to the consultation through letters, emails and petition signatures.
“This decision is a real kick in the teeth after all the hard work the community put in. The closure of these Post Offices will result in many residents having to travel to Cumbernauld or Kilsyth to access an alternative service.
“That’s why I’ll be supporting local calls for an Outreach service. I will also be seeking action from Post Office Ltd to make sure Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s main Post Offices are up to scratch.
“We now need to make sure access and service see real improvements.”
……in Linwood, Renfrewshire community activists are urging local people to come together and save an under-threat post office.
Shutters have been down at the site of the former post office on Burnbrae Avenue since the closure of RS McColls almost two years ago.
Royal Mail insisted at the time it was to be a temporary closure, however, the facility has now been earmarked for permanent closure as the company cuts back
Ian Wilson, Linwood community council’s secretary said: “There is a real danger of losing this important, even vital service from this neighbourhood – a service which will be of great importance from many people from a wider area once the new Tesco superstore is in operation.
“Plans for the Tesco superstore also include some smaller retail units and a recent survey by town planners has indicated that the opening of the Tesco store will attract many more small retailers to open up in the area and will provide an opportunity of a new home for this vital Post Office.”