The case for keeping Westerton Post Office open

Below I have detailed the sound reasons why Westerton 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

 

Westerton is a distinct community within the larger town of Bearsden.  Westerton Post Office acts as a focal point for the community, playing a key role attracting people to the small group of retail outlets where it is situated. 

 

The 2001 Census for Westerton ward gives us the following information about the local residents:[1]

 

Westerton

  • 16% of the population is over 65
  • 30% are economically inactive
  • 13% of households have no car

 

The strong reasons for retaining Westerton Post Office relate to the unsuitability of the proposed alternatives.  The main alternatives are the Post Offices at Stonedyke and Bearsden. 

 

The geography of the area raises big concerns about the accessibility of both of these alternatives, with steep hills and busy roads.  The lack of good public transport links is another main factor.

 

Given the catchment area of people who use Westerton Post Office some people would find themselves 2 miles from their nearest Post Office, which would be in Anniesland.

 

In summary, the reasons for keeping Westerton 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
  4. 4.    Negative impact on local community

 

 

 

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

Westerton is a hilly area, with many very steep inclines.  This means that the removal of Post Offices facilities at Westerton would give problems to many people who would be unable to access PO services without negotiating steep hills.  This would obviously be worse in winter time.  Even just the extra distance would be too much for some people.

“What is suggested means I have to walk up the steep hill and suffering from angina it could be difficult..”

“A lot of pensioners like ourselves are not able to travel on buses.  We are all very worried at the thought of having to travel to Bearsden Post Office especially in the winter time.”

“My wife and myself are over 80, as are lots of our neighbours and freiends, and walking up to the local PO is the extent we can achieve.”

“Many elderly friends in Westerton are not very mobile or fit to move too far from home.”

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 or Stonedyke difficult.

·         No adequate bus service

“I'm now in my late 70s and I visualise spending my old age standing at bus stops trying to get to a Post Office.  What happens when I can no longer get on board the bus?”

“The bus service no 49 takes the direct route to Bearsden Cross only every two hours and is not particularly reliable.”

“To use the number 40 bus to Spey Road entails climbing a steep hill and making a risky and hazardous crossing of a busy road at a T junction.”

  • Traffic & parking problems

“Inadequate parking facilities at Spey Road & Roman Road”

“My job requires me to post packages every day.  The nearest post office would be Anniesland, you can never get parked.”

“Both my husband and I are disabled and the parking at the other Post Office is not suitable.”

“You perhaps have been misinformed regarding the parking situation at the Post Office in Bearsden but it is almost impossible to park close by and certainly not at the door.”

  • Cost

“It will mean a lot of unnecessary travel using up both time and money which I can ill-afford.”

“Taking away the Post Office where I and many others collect our pensions leaves us having to spend cash on taxis to collect same.”


  • Distance is too far

“Our nearest Post Office would be 2 miles away in Anniesland.”

“No other Post Office within walking distance.”

“Devastating especially for OAPs and young mothers.  Stonedyke is too far to walk.”

 

  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.

“There will be queues due to closures as there are already in other Post Offices.”

The current plans involve the closure of Courthill and Killermont Post Offices as well as Westerton.  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.

“We will need to use the Post Office in Anniesland, which has longer queues.”

Not only will this be a problem at Bearsden Cross, but the Anniesland alternative which some people would use already has long queues, and the closure would put extra pressure on services at Stonedyke increasing queues there.

 

4. Negative impact on local community

Of all of the 4 Post Offices proposed for closure within East Dunbartonshire, the response from Westerton has highlighted its community role more starkly than the others.  There are great concerns for the viability of the retail outlets nearby should the Westerton PO close. 

            “Less likely to use shops near PO.”

“Disastrous to the community as the shop would be unlikely to survive without the PO income.”

The wider issue of a loss of a community focal point has been raised by many people.

            “The heart of this pleasant community will be gone.”

“John Lang provides a service which is second to none and is the lifeblood to many senior citizens who live in Westerton.”

“The Post Office is a central element in our community.”

“The closure of our local Post Office would remove a focal point for the community.”

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