POST OF­FICE NIGHT­MARE

Skint pen­sion­ers have faced weeks of mis­ery

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Edel Ke­nealy

El­derly peo­ple are go­ing hun­gry be­cause they have been un­able to col­lect their pen­sions from Ruther­glen Post Of­fice.

Mys­tery con­tin­ues to sur­round the rea­sons for the branch clo­sure, which has now en­tered its fourth week, but Post Of­fice Ltd say it is due to “op­er­a­tional rea­sons”.

Com­mu­nity cam­paign­ers now say vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple are go­ing with­out es­sen­tial food and house­hold items be­cause they have been un­able to pick up pay­ments.

They ar­gue that whilst other branches in Burn­side and To­ry­glen are open, el­derly peo­ple may lack the mo­bil­ity and con­fi­dence to travel.

Geral­dine Baird MBE said: “One woman, a friend of my neigh­bour, she didn’t have much food in the house be­cause she hasn’t been able to col­lect her pen­sion.

“It is a num­ber of fac­tors that have cul­mi­nated in this.

“It’s the clo­sure of the post of­fice, the el­derly want­ing to main­tain their dig­nity and mo­bil­ity prob­lems – th­ese things have cul­mi­nated in this woman go­ing with­out.”

El­derly peo­ple are go­ing with­out food be­cause the clo­sure of Ruther­glen Post Of­fice has pre­vented them from get­ting their pen­sion, cam­paign­ers say.

Com­mu­nity ac­tivists in­clud­ing Geral­dine Baird, Martin Len­non and Ellen Bryson say the four-week clo­sure of the Main Street out­let has put un­due stress on vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

The trio have writ­ten to Post Of­fice head­quar­ters to de­mand the counter, sit­u­ated within the One Stop con­ve­nience store, be re-opened im­me­di­ately.

Mrs Baird MBE, who es­tab­lished Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said the clo­sure was hav­ing an un­told ef­fect on the el­derly.

She said: “One woman, a friend of my neigh­bour, it has tran­spired that she didn’t have much food in the house be­cause she hasn’t been able to col­lect her pen­sion. It is a num­ber of fac­tors that have cul­mi­nated in this. It’s the clo­sure of the post of­fice, the el­derly want­ing to main­tain their dig­nity and mo­bil­ity prob­lems - th­ese things have cul­mi­nated in this woman go­ing with­out.

“This in­di­vid­ual, we have done some­thing about that, but I think there may be other peo­ple in that po­si­tion that we don’t know about.”

Mrs Baird said mo­bil­ity prob­lems and a lack of con­fi­dence has seen pen­sion­ers fail to travel to other post of­fices in Burn­side and To­ry­glen, as sug­gested by the Post Of­fice hi­er­ar­chy.

Martin Len­non, who is stand­ing in the Ruther­glen Cen­tral and North by-elec­tion for Labour, has a set up a wid­get on his web­site which acts as a pe­ti­tion and helps peo­ple reg­is­ter their con­cern about the clo­sure with the Post Of­fice.

“The wid­get gen­er­ates emails which will be sent to the Post Of­fice,” he said. “It reg­is­ters peo­ple’s con­cerns about the clo­sure and re­flects how im­por­tant it is and how vi­tal th­ese ser­vices are.”

Mr Len­non, to­gether with Ellen Bryson, of the Lib­eral Democrats, has ques­tioned why the Post Of­fice has not given the rea­sons be­hind the tem­po­rary clo­sure of the post of­fice and why a con­tin­gency plan was not put into ac­tion.

Ms Bryson, who is the Lib Dem can­di­date in the elec­tion, added: “Lo­cal peo­ple are re­ally up­set about the un­avail­abil­ity of the Ruther­glen Post Of­fice ser­vice. It is high time for the or­gan­i­sa­tion to give a timescale for its restora­tion and put in place ar­range­ments to pro­vide Post Of­fice ser­vices par­tic­u­larly over the next cou­ple of months.”

A spokesman for Post Of­fice said: “We sin­cerely apol­o­gise to cus­tomers for any in­con­ve­nience caused by the tem­po­rary clo­sure of Ruther­glen Post Of­fice. We un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate how much com­mu­ni­ties rely on our ser­vices. We would like to re­as­sure cus­tomers that the de­ci­sion to sus­pend ser­vices at any of our branches is never taken lightly. We take very se­ri­ously any de­ci­sion to change the way a branch is op­er­ated, and will only do so when it is war­ranted by the cir­cum­stances of the par­tic­u­lar case, for ex­am­ple to pro­tect cus­tomers, Post Of­fice as­sets or the safety and se­cu­rity of the Post Of­fice net­work.

“We are work­ing hard to re­store ser­vices for the com­mu­nity as quickly as pos­si­ble and hope to be able to pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion on this in the near fu­ture.”

not good enough Com­mu­nity cam­paign­ers Geral­dine Baird MBE with Martin Len­non of the Labour Party

Post Of­fice cam­paign Ellen Bryson is call­ing for a quick so­lu­tion

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