The race is on to save Dunshalt’s only shop

Objectors fear the loss of the shop will have a big impact on Dunshalt
Objectors fear the loss of the shop will have a big impact on Dunshalt

Dunshalt residents have launched a campaign to save the village’s only shop amid fears that its loss will have a ‘huge impact’ on the community.

A steering group has been set up to explore ways that the shop and Post Office could be run as a community enterprise.

It had been hoped it would be sold as a going concern but its owner, Pauline Pow, has applied for planning permission to convert it into a house.

She says that competition from supermarkets and delivery services means that the business is not viable.

The application will be considered at north east Fife planning committee as there are more than five objections, among them one from the local community council.

It says that the application is ‘premature’ and is seeking more time to look at all the options.

In a letter to local councillor David MacDiarmid, steering group co-ordinator Eleanor Porter said consultations have shown that a high number of villagers are very concerned about the loss of the shop and its Post Office, and the effect it would have on the community.

She said: “We have been trying to arrange a meeting with a representative of Fife Voluntary Action who were involved in advising on the purchase of a community asset in Newburgh.

“The steering group has made an objection to the application, citing ‘loss of amenity’ as the main cause for complaint,” continued Ms Porter.

“The loss of the only shop in Dunshalt will have a huge impact on the village community. A number of villagers are elderly and rely on the shop and Post Office. Without it, villagers cannot buy even basic groceries or post a parcel without making a car journey or using public transport. It has also provided the only ‘social hub’ in the village, where villagers can meet and chat.”

The closure comes just a few years after the long and ultimately unsuccessful fight to save the village school.

Councillor MacDiarmid said: “It was bad enough when school closed but the shop was the heart and hub of community and he only place to meet people. For some people it could be the only contact they had.”

North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins said he was also happy to meet the group. He said: “The shop has clearly been at the heart of the Dunshalt community and the loss of such a lifeline service is already being felt. I hope every option will be looked at in this case. “