The case for keeping Courthill Post Office open

Below I have detailed the sound reasons why Courthill Post Office should be kept open, and the problems with the suggested alternatives.  Comments from local people have been included to illustrate these points.  Attached for your information are original comments and letters received from local people.

 

Background

 

Courthill serves the communities within the wards of Castlehill & Thorn, and part of Baljaffray & Mosshead within Bearsden in East Dunbartonshire.  The 2001 Census for Castlehill & Thorn ward gives us the following information about the local residents:[1]

 

Castlehill & Thorn

  • 14% of the population is over 65
  • 13% have a limiting long-term illness
  • 31% are economically inactive
  • 13% of households have no car

 

The strong reasons for retaining Courthill Post Office relate to the unsuitability of the proposed alternatives.  The main alternative is the Post Offices at Bearsden Cross.  Hecla is suggested a second alternative but being over 2 miles away in a completely different community this is not a realistic alternative – as one of the local people comments, it is “ludicrous”.  There is no third alternative offered for Courthill.  Given the catchment area of people who use Courthill Post Office some people would find themselves a long way from their nearest Post Office, especially those who live in Baljaffray.

 

In summary, the reasons for keeping Courthill Post Office open are:

 

  1. 1.    Alternatives are inaccessible for elderly & disabled people
  2. 2.    Difficulties in journeying to alternative
  3. 3.    Facilities at alternative are not sufficient to meet demand

 

 

  1. 1.    Alternatives are inaccessible for elderly & disabled people

The journey to Bearsden Cross from Courthill is significant,, and even further from some of the areas that use it such as Baljaffray.  It will not by easy for many elderly people to travel this distance.  Although there is a bus service there are many who are unable to access bus services who can currently get to Courthill by foot.  The closure will remove independence from these people.

“Having to go to Bearsden Cross in winter I can’t see that suitable for old people.”

“I suffer from dizziness and my wife has arthritis.  We have quite a walk to the bus stop and with my dizziness I can't travel by bus.”

“It is not always convenient for buses.”

“Getting to the bus stop poses a problem.”

Over the next 15 years East Dunbartonshire is expected to have the highest rate of increase in its older population in all Scotland.  The over 75s group is expected to increase by 68%.[2]  Any changes which have an adverse impact on elderly people will only cause greater problems in the future.

 

  1. 2.    Difficulties in journeying to alternative

There are many factors which make the journey to Bearsden Cross difficult.

  • Traffic & parking problems

“I would have to travel to Bearsden Cross where parking is not easy close to the Post Office.”

“I suffer from ME and cannot walk any great distance.  It is extremely difficult to park close to the Post Office in Roman Road.”

“An area of Bearsden which already has a severe parking problem.”

“Many pensioners will be unable to collect their own pension.  Not everyone can manage to get on a bus.  Not everyone has a car.  Parking is very difficult at Bearsden Cross as it is.”

“Parking and traffic at Bearsden is always difficult and closing the local post office will only add to this problem.”

“The parking and access to the PO in Roman Road is limited.”

  • Cost

“I run a mail order business selling cards and artworks to shops and galleries.  I will now have to talk the bus or walk to Bearsden Cross as I don't usually have transport during the day.”

“Many of the elderly and infirm residents around Courthill may not be able to afford the additional transport costs required for them to reach Bearsden Cross.”

“Extra bus journeys & expense.  I do not drive a car.”

“Difficult for pedestrians to reach Bearsden Cross, particularly if they have to pay for buses.”

“It provides a vital life-line to me.  Not having transport of my own the closure would cause me considerable inconvenience and extra expense each week.”

“I cannot travel on the bus so it would mean the price of a taxi both ways.”

 

  • Distance is too far

“Drumchapel is out of the question.”

“A much longer journey than 0.9mile for people who live in Baljaffray.  The suggestion of the PO at Hecla is ludicrous - no public transport and a death trap of a road, and if you have a car major parking difficulties, which will also apply at Bearsden Cross.”

“The elderly are not able to walk to a bank or the PO at Bearsden Cross.”

“Detrimental to people who are elderly and without transport.  Bearsden Cross is too far.”

“Even to get to Courthill is a struggle, no way could we make it to Bearsden Cross.”

“I am an 85 year old woman, at present I can manage to go to Courthill for my pension, but if it closed I would not be able to go to Bearsden Cross.”

“I am unable to walk far, so closing the Post Office and having to go to the Cross would be impossible for me to get to.”

“Loss of vital public service within walking distance.”

“I cannot walk very far and there are lots of other like me living around here..  If it moves to the Cross it will take what little bit of independence we have to collect our money ourselves.”

“I am almost disabled with arthritis, do not drive a car, neither can I walk to the bus stop, not am I able to get on to or off a bus.  From the bus stop at Bearsden to the Post Office entails having to cross a very busy road, so for me it would be mission impossible.”

 

  1. 3.    Facilities at alternative are not sufficient to meet demand

The lack of parking facilities at Bearsden Cross has already been highlighted.  The opening of a new Marks & Spencer store with no increase in parking provision at the Cross has recently placed even more pressure on parking spaces.  As well as this, there are concerns that facilities within the Bearsden Post Office will not be able to cope.  There are currently 3 counters with no plans to increase this provision.  However even now there are problems with long queues.

            “Total congestion at Bearsden PO on pension days.”

“The queues are long now at Bearsden Post Office, what will it be like when you add 3 Post Offices to it?”

“There is no way Bearsden Cross could cope with all the extras (queues and parking).”

“Can you imagine what Bearsden PO will be like with 3 Post Offices going there?”

“Longer delays at Roman Road PO.”

“Bearsden Cross is always queued out as it is.”

“Long queues when they get there.  The PO at Bearsden Cross is busy enough, closure at Courthill will make things worse.”

“Bearsden Post Office is very busy, there are always queues, with the influx of people from Courthill it would mean even longer queues.”

“Bearsden PO is always crowded.”

“Additional pressue on main Post Offices with long queuing time at busy periods.”

The current plans involve the closure of Westerton and Killermont Post Offices as well as Courthill.  Bearsden Cross Post Office is listed as the main alternative for Killermont and Courthill, and a secondary alternative for Westerton.  The additional volume of business would undoubtedly lead to longer queues.  It is clear that as there are no plans to increase the number of counters at Bearsden Cross Post Office, and there are currently problems with queues, the extra pressure from 3 local closures would only make this worse.

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