Residents in Burntisland are worried they might lose their local post office if a new leaseholder takes over Murdoch’s retail store in the High Street, but decides not to continue offering Post Office services.
Sarah Hathaway has been the operator of Burntisland Post Office for the past four years and she is also the leaseholder for Murdoch’s, where the post office is currently based.
She has the contract to run the post office until the end of January 2022 and her lease for the shop finishes at the end of February and she won’t be renewing either.
Sarah said: “I lease the shop and have the contract with the post office but I have handed in my notice for both. The post office will stay where it is until the end of January when I finish my notice with them. My lease for the shop is up at the end of February.
She added: "I decided to hand in my notice because my lease was up and it was the right time.”
The Post Office confirmed the postmaster for Burntisland has resigned, but said they have an applicant who could potentially take over the contract.
A Post Office spokesperson said: “The postmaster for Burntisland has resigned. They have decided not to renew the lease when it expires in January next year.
"We have an interested applicant and we are progressing their application.”
One Burntisland resident, who didn’t want to be named, said he hoped a new operator could be put in place as the post office is an important asset in the town.
He said: "Obviously this is a real concern for the people living in Burntisland.
"For many people the post office is a lifeline all-year-round, but during last year's winter lockdown we really saw the true value it has. When people couldn't travel to see loved ones in the run up to Christmas, the post office was the only way they could get gifts to people who might otherwise be in isolation.
"I do hope they find someone to take it over because it really is a crucial part of the community."
Louise Humpington, owner of Grain and Sustain in Burntisland High Street, said: “I think locals are right to be concerned if a new leaseholder chose not to continue with offering post office services. It is a hugely important resource for the community, particularly since the closure of the TSB, and would be a devastating loss for the High Street if it was not continued.”
Local councillor Kathleen Leslie said: “The loss of post offices in recent years has been a matter of concern in many smaller towns. I will be seeking assurances that any change in the rental of Murdoch's will continue to include the post office. At this point I have heard nothing to the contrary."
Alex MacDonald, chairman of Burntisland Community Council, added: “Our High Street is very vibrant but local people desperately want to retain a post office function.
“The combination of post office and retail has worked well and I’d like to think that it will continue into the future.”