Number of post offices in Scotland drops by a quarter

Post bus driver Alison MacLean collects mail from a post box in Achnacroish. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
Post bus driver Alison MacLean collects mail from a post box in Achnacroish. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL
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More than a quarter of post offices in Scotland have closed since 2002 with rural areas worst hit, official statisitcs have revealed.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library found there were 1,403 branches north of the border, down from 1,904 in 2002.

But Post Office bosses insisted that numbers in Scotland had stabilished in the past four years and significant investment was being made in the network.

In 2002, Scotland had 1,187 rural post offices and 717 urban branches - which have now dropped to 929 and 474 respectively.

SNP business spokesman Drew Hendry MP said the figures would “set alarm bells ringing”.

“Tory cuts to local post offices threaten the economic well-being and social fabric of rural communities all over Scotland – and they need to be stopped,” he said.

“Despite Ruth Davidson’s promise that her MPs will argue Scotland’s case ‘forcefully’ we have seen no evidence of this, but they can start by backing our call for a protection of all rural Post Offices in Scotland.

“The SNP will continue to campaign tooth and nail against the closure of rural post offices, and call for the expansion of services available, including local banking.”

The branch figures - a snapshot taken at the end of March every year - only show the branches that were open at that time and do not include temporary closed branches which may since have reopened.

Tom Moran, network development director at the Post Office, said customers in Scotland now had “unprecedented access” to post office services, with over 27,000 extra opening hours per week and over 540 branches now open on Sunday.

He added: “We do understand that branches which are temporarily closed can be a real concern for communities, particularly in rural areas. They may have to close for a number of reasons and it can be more challenging to solve these issues in rural communities, where finding another site or suitable operator is not always easy. We always work hard to restore services as quickly as possible.

“Examples of this are Finstown branch on the Island of Orkney, which was temporary closed but reopened in June this year and the new Isle of Harris mobile service has recently restored services to five areas. By the end of this month, we will also have opened five brand new Post Office branches in Scotland since April.”