The future of the world’s oldest post office is under threat after the Royal Mail requested to remove its delivery work an MSP has warned.
If Sanquhar Post Office were to close, a post office in Stockholm would assume its title as world’s oldest meaning both Scotland and the UK would lose the title.
Joan McAlpine MSP was contacted this week by Penny Murphy, the sub post mistress of Sanquhar Post Office Dumfriesshire, which celebrated its tercentenary just last year. Mrs Murphy said Sanquhar faced the threat of closure – despite its status as the oldest continuously operating Post Office in the world – with Royal Mail seeking the closure of its work office at the site.
Mrs Murphy was told that Post Office Ltd had given Sanquhar a last minute reprieve yesterday after rejecting the Royal Mail request. But the Post Office have told her the request will be repeated so closure remains a real possibility.
The emergence of this threatened closure comes on the same day that Labour chose to boycott their own debate at Westminster on the subject of postal services in Scotland after House of Commons authorities refused to include the word ‘separation’ in the debate title.
South of Scotland MSP Ms McAlpine has written to Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail Group calling on her to think again and recognise the special status of the world’s oldest post office.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Sanquhar is the oldest working post office in the world and celebrated its 300th birthday just last year. For the Royal Mail to seek to throw away three centuries of tradition like this is contemptible and will result in the loss of the title not just to Scotland but to the whole of the UK as the oldest working Post Office would move to Stockholm in Sweden.
“The post master and mistress were told this week that a decision to close would be made in days and it is only when they protested that they received a last minute stay of execution. However they were also told that the Royal Mail would repeat its request for the mail work to be transferred so the threat of closure remains.
“Removing mail work from Sanquhar would result in a loss of a third of the post office income and mean closure was inevitable. This would be a dreadful blow for Sanquhar, a beautiful and ancient Royal Burgh which has suffered in recent years from the scourge of unemployment. The post office is an important facility for the townspeople and a source of employment, as well as a tourist attraction bringing welcome visitors.
“If mail is transferred to Thornhill, delivery workers will need to make several trips back and forward every day, increasing fuel costs and also the Royal Mail’s carbon footprint.
“Sanquhar is one of many rural Post Office under threat from decisions made at UK level. The recent planned debate on the future of the post in Scotland would have offered an opportunity to highlight the threat faced by post workers right now as a result of UK decisions. But the Westminster debate has been cancelled by a Labour party obsessed with putting childish games ahead of debating topics that matter to people in Scotland.
“It is not independence that threatens post offices and our mail service – it’s Westminster’s deregulation agenda. Only a Yes vote in 2014 will save Sanquhar and other Scottish Post Offices from damaging decisions made at UK level.”