Joan McAlpine MSP has hit out at the UK government after a Tory Baroness appeared to write off Eastriggs Post Office before the consultation on its future is complete.
Ms McAlpine, the local SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, received a reply from Baroness Neville-Rolfe after she informed the UK government of her concerns about the downgrading of Eastriggs Post Office.
In a written reply to the MSP, the Baroness, the responsible minister for post, said she supported the Network Transformation process behind Eastriggs.
The Baroness, a former supermarket executive, wrote:
"There will be some cases, after having gone through this process, where the Post Office does not consider the current service to be sustainable in the longer term, as is the case with Eastriggs” [our emphasis]
Ms McAlpine said she was shocked at the response, which contradicted a letter she received from the Post Office management on the same day, claiming they were carefully considering the community consultation.
The MSP said:
"The Baroness has let the cat out of the bag regarding Eastriggs. While the Post Office claim they are willing to listen to local people, Baronesss Neville-Rolfe says the service they love and on which they depend is not considered sustainable.”
The Westminster government are the sole owners of Post Office Limited and are driving the current rationalisation programme. In her letter to Joan McAlpine MSP the Baroness said:
"The government supports this [network transformation] because it is critically important that the Post Office has a sustainable future. One of the key rationales for the programme is that where the Post Office Services can be supplied on a commercially viable basis they should be. This has significantly reduced the reliance of the network on public subsidy and will continue to do so. "
But Ms McAlpine was unimpressed. She commented:
"The Baroness fails to understand the concept of public service. The Post Office is not "subsidised" as she suggests. It is owned by all of us. It is not merely about the bottom line. It's about the beating heart if a community."