CUSTOMERS and councillors are demanding answers over the sudden closure of Gourock Post Office.

The branch in Kempock Street shut suddenly last month, for at least the third time in recent months.

Local residents say the situation is now unacceptable while councillors fear that the service has become so unreliable that the town will be left without a post office at all.

Councillor Lynne Quinn said: "There are also other days when it has closed early or hasn't opened at all.

"These were times when it didn't open for days on end.

"This is not a one off, with the frequency of closures, it is now so unreliable.

"What the point of a post office when it says it's open until 5.30pm and closes at 3pm, or just doesn't open at all?

"It could be the beginning of the end.

"People will start going up to the Cathcart Street branch.

"The fear that the numbers dwindle and dwindle and because people are going elsewhere - that there will not be a use for it."

Councillor Quinn contacted post office bosses in May and again in August when the post office was closed for several days.

Post Office bosses replied saying the first incident was outwith the post office's control and the reason for its closure was private and confidential.

The second closure was due to staff illness and Councillor Quinn was assured that they were committed to maintaining services in Gourock.

But now it has once again closed without notice, leaving residents, especially elderly people, high and dry.

Cllr Quinn said: "Elderly people who might not have a car or transport can't go somewhere else to get cash or other services it provides."

Driving instructor Margaret Nicol had walked from her home in Albert Road to post a parcel only to find the shutters down.

She said: "There is no point in being a post office if it's never open.

"I thought by law, you had to be open to the public and had to go through hoops to be a postmaster.

"The town is being let down.

"It's disgraceful.

"I now don't come here very often because it is so unreliable.

"I tend to shove any parcels I have in the car and go to Greenock."

Councillor Quinn said that it is time for the post office to take on someone who is willing to run the post office properly.

She said: "Another local business, when the situation was being discussed before showed an interest in operating the service within their shop."

Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld, who has also been demanding answers over the debacle, said: "When it was going to close because there was no-one to run it, I had two or three people at the time who said they were quite prepared to take on the franchise.

"But this was rejected by the post office, who came up with some solution with the present incumbents, and we were guaranteed a better service.

"It's limped on but it closed on Tuesday before New Year.

"The post office was contacted and we were told it would open again on Wednesday, but it didn't."

Cllr Ahlfeld claims local businesses now cannot rely on using the branch because they never know when it will be open.

He said: "Less and less people are going to use it, it's all negative.

"It is critical that we have a good post office in the town and at the moment we don't have it.

"The general public is cheesed off."

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Gourock Post Office has been short-term temporarily closed since due to staffing issues due to illness and family bereavement.

"We ask for the understanding of customers at this difficult time.

"Alternative branches include Auchmead Road, Bow Road and Murdieston Street.”