Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 16:21 UK

Post office consultation 'futile'

Post box
The Post Office has failed to make any concessions to cuts in Fife

The Post Office has confirmed that it will press ahead with plans to close 16 post offices across Fife.

A consultation was carried out after the original proposals were announced, but no concessions were made to the cuts planned in Fife.

Politicians have described it as an "exercise in futility" and expressed concern for several communities.

The Post Office insisted it had to make some "difficult decisions which were not taken lightly."

The closures have been confirmed in Cardenden, Cowdenbeath, Crosshill, Halbeath, Kelty, Lower Largo, Newton of Falkland and Torryburn.

Branches will also close in Appin Crescent and Hillend, Dunfermline; Wellesley Road and Bramble Bank, Leven; Kingdom Centre, Glenrothes; Commercial Street, Kirkcaldy; and Westport, Cupar.

A branch in Guardbridge will be replaced with an "outreach service" at the same site, which will be open four hours per week.

Public consultation

The Post Office said it had received 4,300 comments on its proposals, which also cover the north east and Tayside.

Some branches have been saved in other parts of Scotland but not in Fife.

A branch in St Andrews closed earlier this year despite a high-profile public campaign and was replaced by a counter in the nearby WH Smiths.

It appears that this consultation is little more than a sham
Iain Smith
North East Fife MSP

North East Fife MSP Iain Smith said: "This is an absolute disgrace. The Royal Mail has clearly ignored the views of the people in North East Fife.

"I made a point of stating at the beginning of this consultation period that it should in no way replicate the shambolic consultation which surrounded the St Andrews Post Office last year, which only acted as means for the Royal Mail to tell residents of their final plans.

"Again, it appears that this consultation is little more than a sham."

The closures will start to take effect from September.

Sally Buchanan, network development manager for the Post Office in Scotland, said: "These are difficult decisions which have not been taken lightly.

"We have considered very carefully all the comments made during the public consultation.

"We believe that the amended plan announced today offers our customers across North East, Tayside and Fife the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the UK Government's minimum access criteria and the other factors it has asked us to consider."

The announcement has been criticised by the leader of Fife Council, who said four of the post offices being closed were in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland.

Councillor Peter Grant said: "It is clear Post Office bosses have ignored our views and those of the public whom they are meant to serve and gone ahead with this reckless closure programme, which will do for the post office network what Dr Beeching did for the railways."


SEE ALSO
Scottish post offices for closure
28 May 08 |  North East/N Isles
Sixteen post offices to shut down
09 May 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Review of post office closures
05 Apr 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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