Hawick’s town centre post office has closed without prior warning, and it is not known when it will reopen.
The Sandbed post office was shut down unexpectedly at the weekend and will remain closed until further notice.
The Post Office says that shutdown is due to circumstances beyond its control but did not explain further.
A notice at the premises says the closure is down to what it describes only as unforeseen circumstances and directs customers to use the town’s only other post office, two miles away in Burnfoot’s Kenilworth Avenue, instead.
The shock shutdown is causing consternation among customers and politicians representing the town.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer said: “I have been told that Sandbed Post Office is being subjected to some form of internal audit and consequently is out of action.
“I am aware of a number of constituents who are being severely disadvantaged and who are simply not able to travel to the only alternative facility at Burnfoot.
“I have contacted Scottish Borders Council’s economic development and social care services to seek their active involvement in resolving this matter as soon as possible.
“With the recent closure of our Royal Bank of Scotland and limited post office counter services at Burnfoot, the protracted closure of the Sandbed post office highlights just how vulnerable the people of Hawick and the surrounding area are when an essential service is removed, even if only temporarily.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull believes the closure will have a major impact on both townsfolk and businesses and is calling on Post Office bosses to take urgent action to resolve the situation, adding: “This is a major issue that will affect so many people within the town and the surrounding area and needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
“It is of real concern that Hawick will now only be served by the Burnfoot branch, which offers a reduced level of services, and that will cause major disruption to townsfolk and businesses alike.
“Post Office Counters must get this resolved as a matter of urgency. I am aware that they are on the case, and I am eagerly awaiting an outcome.”
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont added: “This is a big blow to Hawick, and we need to get the post office up and running as quickly as possible.
“I’ve been in touch with senior managers at the Post Office, who have explained the reason behind the closure and are working hard to find a solution.
“If this is allowed to go on for too long, it will start to seriously affect residents and local businesses.
“While Hawick is still served by Burnfoot Post Office, that branch closes earlier than Sandbed and doesn’t offer the same range of services, so it is simply not an alternative for many local residents.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “I did bring it to the attention of council officers a year ago that in my opinion the owner seemed to be adopting a somewhat cavalier attitude to opening hours.
“It was never open on a Sunday, and it seemed to be closing early in the evenings and was opening far too late in the mornings.”
“They would miss the people going to their work.
“I hope that someone else can take it over again and make it once again into a thriving, busy place like it used to be.
“It will be a miss to the people of the west end of the town, many of whom now face having to go to Burnfoot to get their pension or benefits.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall said: “It’s very worrying indeed to learn today that this very important facility in the town is currently closed.
“I have taken several calls from worried members of the public who couldn’t access their pensions etc.
“Whilst the post office in Burnfoot provides an excellent service, it isn’t everyone who can rely on transport to get them to there.
This closure shows now how vulnerable our town is when it comes to providing such a vital service, and I think now we must do all that we can to try and attract a post office which is more centrally located.
“I have written to Royal Mail asking what they are going to do in order to mitigate the interruption of such a vital service for our town.”
Fellow ward councillor Clair Ramage added: “Over a year ago, I attended a public meeting in Hawick Town Hall, organised by MP John Lamont, to discuss how we could stop the closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland on our High Street.
“There was not much discussion by way of saving our RBS but there was much discussion about how the Post Office could help to mitigate the closure by stepping in and offering various services.
“To this end, three ladies were there representing the post office and discussing the Sandbed Post Office and how, with the change of ownership, they would be able to offer a great service, yet here we are, in a little over a year, let down again.
“Who will suffer? The main people to suffer will be the pensioners unable to access their pensions and, yet again, the more vulnerable in our community.
“To say I am angry is an understatement, and I will be writing to the Post Office to emphasise our need to have a central post office set up as quickly as possible.”