THE post office in West Kilbride is to close next month, it's been announced.

The facility in the Spar shop in the village will shut on Friday, May 10.

After that date residents will have to travel to Gallowgate Street in Largs, Central Avenue in Ardrossan or Chapelwell Street in Saltcoats to access Post Office facilities.

The Post Office announced the date in a letter to local councillors, including North Coast councillor Todd Ferguson, who called the news a "hammer blow" for the community.

The news comes little more than six months since Scottish wholesaler CJ Lang stated that rural post offices in its Spar stores were no longer at risk of closure, although "other branches could still be considered under review".

In a letter to local councillors a Post Office spokesperson: "We are writing to inform you that, regrettably, following the resignation of our retail partner and the withdrawal of the premises for Post Office use, the branch will be closing on Friday  May 10 at 4pm.

"I would like to assure you that we are working hard to keep any period of closure to a minimum and we are currently investigating the options available which will enable us to reinstate a Post Office service to the local community.

"In exploring this, it is important that any future service is sustainable for the person operating the service, and for Post Office Limited. 

"We apologise for the inconvenience the closure may cause. We hope that our customers will continue to use Post Office services."

Cllr Ferguson said: "I am against any kind of closure. We have seen the situation with banks closing in the village. West Kilbride has already been hit hard.

"Not everyone is available to go to the nearest branch in Largs or Ardrossan. People need these facilities in their locality so that they can access them.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: 'Hammerblow to community'... Todd Ferguson'Hammerblow to community'... Todd Ferguson (Image: North Ayrshire Conservatives)

"There are opportunities in which to feed back concerns, and in the letter that the Post Office has sent out, they have said specifically that they are looking at options to restore a service within the community.

"Hopefully someone in the village could take the contract on for the post office and has the appetite for it.

"Sure, things have changed rapidly, and people don't post letters like they used to, but post offices play an important role for vulnerable residents within the community.

"I hope to speak to Spar and find out why they have changed their mind on the situation and why they have decided to rescind the contract, if that is indeed what they have done.

"I am happy to work with the community and other councillors and elected members across the board, who I am sure will be unanimously against the closure, and try, if we can, to find another supplier of the service."

Jim Hepburn, non-executive chairman of CJ Lang, told the Better Retailing trade publication in October: “We’ll continue them as long as we think there’s a need. I tend to make the point that our post office operations are unprofitable. Our view is they don’t attract the footfall. 

“We keep them under review where they are in very remote locations.” 

CJ Lang chief executive Colin McLean said in October: “We’ve still got post offices in remote locations where we recognise they are part of the community, but we will continue to put other post offices where we need to under review.” 

A spokesperson for CJ Lang, who operate the Spar store, said today: "Following consultations with Post Office Limited we have taken the difficult decision to cease the Post Office services based out of the West Kilbride store from 10th May 2024. 

"The decision has been taken after our ongoing review of Post Office operations in stores across the business, with factors such as the nearest Post Office taken into consideration to ensure customers are still able to access the services they need. 

"There will be no job losses or redundancies in relation to the Post Office closure. The retail store will continue to trade as usual, and we will be utilising the space left from the removal of the Post Office areas to improve our range, products, and customer offering.

"We remain committed to local communities and to ensuring our stores provide key products and services to our shoppers, especially during such challenging times. "