At the end of November, Graham Smalley locked up the doors of Warrender Park Post Office, where he has served as sub postmaster for over eleven years, for the last time. The Echo’s Sharon Weir gauged his thoughts.
How important do you feel the post office is in the community?
It is particularly important for the more elderly residents in the area. A post office is a focal point in their community and it can give them that degree of independence and they can manage to get down here and conduct their own business. It takes that away from them when you take that out of the community. In Marchmont we also have quite a large student customer base. Students use the post office a lot for paying bills, receiving packages, especially as they may be out at lectures, so there is somewhere for them to collect them from.
When did you first hear about the proposed closure of your post office?
We have known the programme of closures has been going on and Edinburgh is the one of the last areas in the UK to be done. It didn’t start directly affecting us until July this year, but we have been aware of it for about 18 months.
Why do you think Warrender Park was selected for closure?
It’s a lot to with geographical location, not necessarily the size of the post office. There are other things taken into consideration as well and there are about 2,500 post offices in the whole country being closed in total.
What has been the reaction of customers and people in the community?
Quite angry. There was a very high profile campaign against the closure; there were dozens and dozens of letters of complaint written about it and a huge petition. A few years ago another post office at the top of Marchmont Road closed down, too. So I think the people here felt a bit let down at the end of the day.
What impact do you think this closure will have?
Some businesses nearby have mail to post on a daily basis and others do business banking with us. The time element will now be an issue for them, as they will have to go a lot further to do this, probably to Tollcross. Some businesses do Internet orders as well, and would use us for that, too. I think time, mainly, will be the main factor for other businesses in the area.
Where is the nearest post office now?
Either Bruntsfield or Tollcross. There is a half-hourly bus that will take you to Tollcross from here, but there is no direct public transport to Bruntsfield. Parking is also not easy, and it just means some people have to go a lot further now.
Will the post office premises remain open for any other type of business?
It depends. The premises belong to us and initially we have no immediate plans, but we will probably have a break and think about it.
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