Post Office Limited’s plans to press ahead with the relocation of its Forfar and Kirriemuir branches have been greeted with disappointment and scepticism.
Despite Post Office Limited’s assurances that the moves will be beneficial to customers, local councillors have voiced concerns that life could become more difficult for both the company and the public.
As was announced last week, the main Forfar branch will move from its current site to form “a new open-plan main style” post office within a convenience store at 7 East High Street, currently occupied by Solus.
The Kirriemuir branch will move from Reform Street to Thistle News and gifts in the town centre.
Although a move date has yet to be set, the new Forfar branch will be fully refurbished to cater for elderly and disabled customers with new facilities and extended opening hours.
Suzanne Richardson, regional manager, said: “We are making it easier for customers to get their cash, send and collect their mail and do their banking because we know how important these services are to local residents.
“We are confident that this vibrant new-style Post Office at the heart of the community will be popular.”
But the new branches’ positions in the town centres, with limited parking in Forfar’s case, is still causing concern.
Isobel Ross, Forfar Community Council chairwoman, said she feels the decision had been made before the consultation ever took place but that the decision is the wrong one.
She said: “What has happened is no surprise. I don’t think there’s any available space for parking, with zig-zags and yellow lines, and I can’t see it working.
“If the Post Office loses trade then it’s their own fault.”
Forfar councillor Glennis Middleton also said the outcome is not a surprise and added that she feels the decision is “short-sighted”.
She continued: “I think that I, like most of Forfar, believe this was a done deal before consultation took place. I think this was a decision that was taken some time ago and is one that will cause difficulties for the people of Forfar.
“I still don’t know how Royal Mail will be able to uplift parcels from that building as there’s no access round the back and nowhere to stop in front. It’s a very busy part of the street and I wouldn’t be surprised if people find alternative means of doing business which will have a detrimental effect on the Post Office.
“The consultation was flawed as far as parking was concerned and despite the fact that was pointed out to them, they decided to go ahead. I don’t see how that could be easily changed to alleviate the situation.”
Kirriemuir councillor Ronnie Proctor commended the business owners who are accommodating the new facilities, but said he doubted the move would be good for the town.
He said: “I take my hat off to the proprietor but I think the premises are in the wrong place and too small. With the Royal Bank of Scotland closing, I’ve suggested it could be kept open and the Post Office accommodated in the building too. It would increase footfall to the bank and would be more accessible to all.
“The Post Office obviously hasn’t looked at it in any great depth.”