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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 18:17 GMT
Heart 'ripped out' of community
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

A Scottish postmistress has spoken of her concerns for her local post office amid fears that thousands of the facilities face the axe this week.

Post office sign
Ms Edwards says the post office has a community role

Auldgirth postmistress Sandy Edwards was delivered the latest news on office closures by her customers.

She said she was too busy getting her shop ready to read the newspaper headlines warning of rural branches being shut across the country.

Instead, it was her regulars who told her that her business was "doomed".

"Every person that came in was talking about it," she said.

Ms Edwards has been running her post office and shop a few miles outside Dumfries for five years.

She was part of a delegation which travelled to London earlier this year to make the case for keeping rural offices open.

I can't believe they didn't think through what they were doing - they must have known the impact that was going to have
Sandy Edwards

While she said she would "take it on the chin" if her office was selected to close she believes it would have a dramatic effect on the village.

"This morning we have been packed out," she said.

"The banter, the people just chatting, people going in and out - what happens to that community?" she said

"They have ripped the heart out of these places without any thought.

"I think there will be lots of very angry people."

Dumfries post office
Auldgirth residents could travel to the post office in Dumfries

The Auldgirth businesswoman traces the current problems back to changes to the method of pension payments.

"The death knell was the pension farce - that has always been the bread and butter of post offices," she said.

"I can't believe they didn't think through what they were doing - they must have known the impact that was going to have."

Auldgirth is not as isolated as some offices and Ms Edwards said most of her customers could travel to Dumfries.

That would certainly represent a major turnaround, however, since she got into the business five years ago.

"At that point it was still perceived that if you had a post office it was good for business," she said.

What I want to know is if they are going to close us how much notice are we going to have and how are they going to look after the communities?
Sandy Edwards

Ms Edwards added that it was hard to establish just what impact it would have on her business as a whole if her branch was selected for closure.

"It will be very, very difficult and I would have to say you cannot quantify how many people come in because of the post office," she said.

"You don't know until it happens.

"But I think it would just knock the heart out of everything."

She said she understands that no business can carry on if it is losing money but believes the situation has been handled badly.

"What I want to know is if they are going to close us how much notice are we going to have and how are they going to look after the communities?"

She will be hoping to get the answers to some of her questions when the Department of Trade and Industry makes its announcement on Thursday.


SEE ALSO
Fury over post office cuts plan
09 Dec 06 |  Scotland
Post office closure study launch
27 Oct 06 |  Tayside and Central
Rural post office 'lifeline' call
18 Oct 06 |  Scotland

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