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Lerwick post office closure proposal triggers angry response

12 Sep 2019, 15:03 ... -response/

PLANS to close the main branch of the Lerwick Post Office and shift the service to nearby retail premises in Commercial Street have been roundly condemned.

In a letter to customers on Wednesday, ( ... Letter.pdf)Post Office Ltd informed islanders of its plans to move the service to the Conochies shop early next year.

A consultation on the move, described by the company as necessary to “secure the long term viability” of its services in Lerwick, opened yesterday [Wednesday].

The news triggered a long thread of negative comments on Shetland News’ Facebook page, ( ... ?__tn__=-R)describing the proposal as “awful”, “pretty rubbish” and “ridiculous” among others.

Former Post Office employee Billy Doig said postal services have never been the same since Post Office Ltd became independent of the Royal Mail Group in 2012.

“How on earth can Conochies cope? Doors [are] not wide enough and no room to swing a cat.

“Post Office has never been the same since they split it up and privatised it.

“I’ve worked there and still have friends and family working there. Hopefully common sense will prevail but obviously not much of it about.”

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said it looked to her as though “a major decision about a community service has been made prior to consultation”.

“We deserve to know when and why the Post Office decided that this change was necessary, and how they awarded the retail partnership in the absence of any public discussions,” she said.

“It is essential that this is a full consultation, not just a tick box exercise by the Post Office. That is the only way that people can trust that their needs will be heard.”

Her colleague Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael added: “For the Post Office to decide to close the main branch and then consult only on its replacement is unacceptable.

“Making major changes to a keystone service impacts everyone in the community, in Lerwick and the rest of Shetland. It is far more than a simple commercial decision and it should not be imposed on us from on high.

“The Post Office has got off to a bad start here. It is in their interest as well as the interest of the people of Shetland that they launch a full consultation before going any further. This is a question of trust, and respect for local needs.”

The Post Office’s head of the directly managed branch network Steve Blampied said: “The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Offices, large and small, are successfully operated on a franchise basis with retail partners.

“We believe this is the best approach to keeping Post Offices in main shopping locations and at the heart of communities where they play an important role in local economies.”

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