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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Office closures already delivered
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
BBC Scotland news website
South of Scotland reporter

Galashiels post office
The existing post office in Galashiels will close on Thursday
The latest round of 44 post office closure announcements had a familiar ring across southern Scotland.

Both Dumfries and Galashiels have already experienced the fate which now awaits parts of Argyll and Bute, Greater Glasgow and Central Scotland.

Two of the largest towns in the south of the country were part of previous restructuring plans.

Dumfries post office moved into a Spar store last year while the Galashiels site moves to WH Smith on Thursday.

The Dumfries and Galloway site was earmarked for closure at the end of 2005.

It was one of six branches across Scotland to meet the same fate.

Petition lodged

The announcement prompted a significant public campaign against the proposal to vacate the Great King Street premises.

About 8,000 people signed a petition against the plan.

Postal watchdog Postwatch Scotland also expressed concerns about the location of the new office and the level of public opposition.

However, by the middle of February the Post Office confirmed that the branch would be closed.

"Quite frankly they have not listened to the views of the public," commented Liam Murphy of the Communication Workers Union at the time.

Dumfries post office
The Dumfries site has been empty for 18 months

However, Post Office Network Services Manager Andy Bayfield insisted that concerns had been taken on board.

"The vast majority of people said 'I just don't like the idea of this' - not that it wouldn't work, or that there are particular issues there," he said.

By the end of March last year the store had moved to its new Whitesands site.

The Great King Street premises were left empty and have remained so to the present day.

The story of the Galashiels site is more fresh in the memory.

A 111-year association with its imposing Channel Street building ends this week.

It was one of 11 sites nationwide which were earmarked in April to move into WH Smith stores.

Once again, there was local anger at the plans with MP Michael Moore dubbing the consultation process a "sham".

Lessons learned

However, the Post Office insisted the proposals were the only way to make its services viable in many towns.

In September, it confirmed a closure date for the old site of 24 October.

The story of the two south of Scotland sites would appear to offer a couple of lessons for the latest branches facing closure.

Once an announcement is made the process seems to move very quickly and it seems very hard to get the Post Office to change its mind.

And, if Dumfries is anything to go by, don't expect anything to fill the empty property left behind any time soon.

SEE ALSO
Post Office earmarks 44 closures
23 Oct 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Post office move date announced
25 Sep 07 |  South of Scotland
Assurances sought on postal plan
20 Jun 07 |  South of Scotland
'Dismay' over post office switch
02 May 07 |  South of Scotland
MP seeks answers over postal move
24 Apr 07 |  South of Scotland
Main post offices set for switch
19 Apr 07 |  South of Scotland

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