South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has stepped up his campaign to find long-term solutions for Gretna, Eastriggs, Georgetown and Thornhill Post Offices, which have been threatened with closure.
The four branches look set to close after CJ Lang confirmed those post offices will no longer operate out of their SPAR stores from August and September.
Colin Smyth has been working with local councillors, businesses, community groups and the Post Office to find either a permanent home for these branches or at least outreach services so the local communities still have access to a Post Office.
At talks between the local MSP and the Post Office recently, the Post Office confirmed outreach services would be introduced in the four communities as an interim measure while the search for long-term providers in each community continues.
In Georgetown the current service will end on Thursday 19 August at 3 pm. However, a temporary hosted service will commence on Friday 27 August 2021 and will be operated by the postmaster from Galloway Street Post Office and be run from Georgetown Library, Gillbrae Road, Georgetown, Dumfries, DG1 4EJ on a Friday from 10 am to 1pm.
In Gretna the current service will end on Monday 23 August 2021 at 3 pm. A temporary mobile service will commence on Wednesday 25 August 2021 and will be operated by the postmaster from Scotby Post Office and be run from Annan Rd, near to All Saints Church, Gretna, DG16 5AA on a Wednesday from 2.15pm to 4.15 pm and on a Friday from 9am to 11am.
In Thornhill the current service will end on Thursday 12 August 2021 at 3pm. A temporary hosted service will commence on Monday 16 August 2021 from Thornhill Library, Townhead Street, Thornhill, DG3 5NW by the postmaster from Galloway Street Post Office in Dumfries and will be run from Thornhill library on a Monday from 11am to 2pm and a Wednesday from 11am to 2pm.
In Eastriggs final arrangements are being put in place by the Post Office to provide an outreach service on a Tuesday and Friday when the current Post Office service in the Spar shop closes.
Colin Smyth said: “For the past couple of months I have been working with local councillors, several local businesses and groups to find solutions to the Post Office closures in their areas, and there have been a number of very positive responses. There is still a lot of anger over the decision by CJ Lang to pull the plug on these services in some of the Spar shops they own, especially given that these are all profitable, viable Post Office counters. However, CJ Lang isn’t prepared to discuss changing their position so we now need to find alternatives.
“I had a good meeting with Post Office bosses and I’m confident that they’re doing all they can to keep services in each community. I’m pleased temporary arrangements are now being finalised in all four communities as we continue to work to find long term solutions.
“It is still early days but I am very hopeful that we can find the post offices new, permanent homes in the communities, or at the very least the Post Office will provide a long term outreach services.
“But what that solution is will depend on finding alternative providers. I have had really good discussions with organisations and businesses in Georgetown, Gretna and Thornhill who responded to the call to come forward and these are now being explored by the Post Office.
“However, a lot of work still needs to be done and we need the help of local businesses and the community to ensure we don’t lose these services. This is particularly true in Eastriggs, where we still need possible long term alternatives to come forward.
“Having a Post Office in the community is vital for so many of my constituents, particularly those who are older or people who can’t travel easily.
“Sadly, right across Dumfries and Galloway we have seen closure after closure of Post Offices and complete inaction by the UK Government to keep them open.
“These latest closures would be another blow to the region, in particular these communities, and a further cut in the number of Post Offices.”