By Stuart Maxwell and Elyas Hussain
An award winning Post Office in the heart of Glasgow’s Southside is poised to be shut down despite fierce community opposition who see the service as vital.
There are plans for Crosshill Post Office, Victoria Road, to be closed and relocated to 540 Cathcart Road- where it will be a hybrid service, integrated with another retail venture. This comes a little over a year after the branch was awarded ‘Best Town and City’ Post Office in Scotland.
Fiercely opposed to the relocation, Iain MacInnes, Govanhill and Crosshill Community Council secretary, has headed a local campaign. Said Iain: ‘We have nearly 700 signatures from the local community in opposition to this. People are showing great displeasure. Post Office provisions have cut heavily all over the Southside. All such cuts are morally bankrupt. It is an iconic building to all cultures. They see it as part of their community being taken away.’
Iain’s campaign has been supported by Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP and Government Minister. In a letter to Post Office Ltd. Nicola wrote: ‘Many in the area doubt the business viability of such a ‘dual purpose’ branch and fear that if it wasn’t successful, it would not be too long before a proposal was forthcoming to close the branch altogether.’
Govanhill resident Brian Rowinson is one of many angry at the proposed closure. The 39 year-old told LOCAL NEWS: ‘If they close this post office it will effect the elderly community because Crosshill is within walking distance. The new premises are smaller- how will they possibly accommodate all the customers? It’s horribly ironic that Crosshill Post Office won the Post Office of the Year and is being closed?
The LOCAL NEWS has been told by Post Office Ltd that the decision to advertise the franchise was taken after the business went in to receivership in December 2009, and that the sole applicant wants to move the service to Cathcart Road. Julie Morrison, Head of External Relations for Post Office Ltd said: ‘She (the applicant), wants to relocate to Cathcart Road. Rents and rates on Victoria Road make it an nonviable option. This is the best solution available to us.’
Iain MacInnes is not convinced: ‘As a community we have seen no evidence to show that there were proper procedures for other people to put their names forward to run this post office.’
The period for consultation, allowing the public to respond to the proposal, ended on October 26. Julie Morrison has pledged that Post Office Ltd ‘will take all all submissions into consideration before making a final decision.’ Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, who has presented a motion to the Scottish Parliament against the relocation, fears community views will be shelved
Said Patrick: ‘The decision to close and relocate has been taken too early.. I don’t think the Post Office have explored all options for maintaining the service on Victoria Road. The branch on Victoria Road is clearly more accessible for the local community. There have been many reductions to Post Office services in the Southside and there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. The peoples’ wishes tend to be ignored but this decision has stirred enough reaction to make the Post Office think again.’
In 2007, David Meikle, Councillor for Pollokshields, led a protest against Post Office plans to close a branch on Kildrostin Street. 1300 signatures were gathered but the closure went ahead. David told LOCAL NEWS: ‘At the time, the Post Office cited a new service on Shields Road and Crosshill itself as alternatives. We were promised two counters in the Shields Road hybrid, but have only one. To now hear that Crosshill is to close is really a piece of nonsense. You get the impression there is no real consultation period and that it’s a done deal. This will be another nail in the coffin for the vitality of Victoria Road.’