International parcels service set to be axed from Earlston Post Office

THE looming loss of the Post Office’s international parcels service from its branch in Earlston is being lamented by councillors and local residents.

In a letter to Scottish Borders Council at the beginning of this month, regional network manager for the Post Office, Sue Richardson, informed the local authority’s chief executive Tracey Logan that the organisation was looking at changing the current post office branch into one of its new ‘local’ branches.

If this goes ahead – March is the scheduled date for the change – it would see Post Office services delivered from a till on a retail counter rather than from behind a security screened counter.

There would also be the loss of some services, but, said Ms Richardson, these services would still be available from Melrose Post Office, while others, such as travel insurance, are available from the Post Office online.

However, one benefit is that the services would be available seven days a week, from 6am until 10pm, including Sundays.

Local Scottish Borders councillor, Nicholas Watson (Leaderdale & Melrose, BP), feels the proposed changes – which would see the branch closed for five days in March to allow alteration work to take place – appear sensible on the whole.

However, he warned: “The changes they want to make seem pretty sensible on the whole, with one exception – not being able to send parcels abroad.

“People have been sending parcels through Post Offices since the very beginning; it seems the most basic service, and not being able to do this would be a real inconvenience.

“I’ve written personally to say so, and I hope many others will do the same.”

And local community councillor, John Paton-Day, who worked hard a few years ago to get small Post Offices reopened in communities, said, while the changes might appear on the face of it to be quite insignificant, that was not the true picture.

“The time allowed for public response is far too short, indeed I would be surprised if the local community is even aware of the proposals,” he told TheSouthern this week.

“The apparent loss of an international parcels service could impact severely on those people who have families abroad, especially at Christmas, or for birthdays, etc.

“I am not against any improvement that is a benefit to the community and it may well be that these changes will be for the better, but I wonder why there has not been a more substantial consultation period.

“What other services will be lost in the future? Earlston Post Office is well used and it would be unacceptable if its services were diluted into extinction.”