Plans to close four post office counters in Southern Scotland over coming months

Four Post Office counters across southern Scotland are set to close within months.

Branches based in Spar stores at Thornhill, Dumfries, Gretna and Eastriggs will all shut for good.

There are concerns the move could leave people cut off from vital services, with older residents being the worst hit. Spar operator CJ Lang says "industry-wide pressures" are behind the decision.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and Council Leader Elaine Murray have urged the Post Office to find an alternative home for the four branches after it was confirmed they will no longer be able to operate from SPAR stores.

The post offices look set to close after SPAR confirmed those branches will no longer house the service from 12, 19, 23 August and 23 September respectively.

Writing to Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader Elaine Murray, CEO of CJ Lang and Sons, Colin McLean said after a consultation period it had been decided that it was not viable to continue to operate the Post Offices within those SPAR stores.

Colin Smyth added: “They have stated that after 18 months of negotiations with Post Office, it has now been confirmed that in the next couple of months Post Office services will no longer operate out of SPAR stores in Thornhill, Georgetown, Gretna and Eastriggs.

“I am now urging the Post Office to find an alternative as a matter of urgency. 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.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that CJ Lang announced that the Post Office counters they operate on our behalf will close at a number of their stores. The decision to close these counters has been taken solely by CJ Lang.

 “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."

Age Scotland, the national charity for older people, has criticised Spar’s decision to close several Post Office counters in our region.

Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: “This is an extremely disappointing move from Spar and one that will undoubtedly hit older customers hardest.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that offloading responsibility to deliver banking facilities to Post Office is precarious if their partners then close counters and withdraw services, leaving customers high and dry.”