Difficulties in recruiting suitable staff to run Arrochar post office have been flagged up amid customer concerns about unexpected closures at the facility on Saturdays.

The Community Development Trust, which runs the Post Office in the Three Villages Cafe, says the need for staff with the necessary calibre and ability to provide PO counter and banking services - along with a general level of security - "cannot be fulfilled at present".

It says this is because of holidays and other part and full-time staffing circumstances that have arisen.

Now the PO will open only when the cafe is open, a move outlined to the Advertiser this week by trust spokesman Duncan MacLachlan.

He said: "In taking a difficult decision, weighing up primary PO services which drop considerably on a Saturday and to safeguard volunteers and paid staff, the business manager invoked an agreement with the PO that it would only open when the cafe was open."

He said these enforced measures were only taken when absolutely necessary, as community benefits were also being lost in such instances, along with other staff hours being dropped.

The moves came to light when the Advertiser made enquiries after receiving an email from a disgruntled PO customer who complained that the post office was shut "four Saturdays in a row."

The customer, who asked not to be named, emailed us to ask: "How do these people expect locals, pensioners, to use these facilities if you never know when its actually open?

"That's four Saturdays in a row and its shut - how do they expect people to get electric top ups, withdraw money and pay bills?

The Post Office nationally told the Advertiser it was aware of the situation.

A spokesperson said: “We understand and appreciate how much communities rely on our services and we apologise to customers for any confusion caused regarding the opening hours of Arrochar Post Office.

"We are aware of the issue and we are liaising with the branch to resolve this as quickly as possible for the community.”

Mr MacLachlan said: "We have operated the business alongside cafe and takeaway food services for coming up to two years, heavily subsidising it over the winter.

"However, our business is suffering along with many others in front line tourism under peak summer pressure, with staffing and recruitment proving difficult to maintain with a lot of competition in our relatively small community.

"The anonymous complainant is, however, correct to state that the local community using the full range of PO and cafe services more, is the only way it can be maintained over both summer and winter openings, and something the Development Trust have to fully consider in trying to do what's best for the area.

"Continuing to subsidise a PO with it's customers expecting high standards of service may not be the best approach and best use of hard earned community funds."

Mr MacLachlan pointed out that an occasional mobile banking service is provided for the area and another PO counter is available, Monday to Friday, two miles away.

He added: "Our business manager works closely with local businesses to ensure their Sunday to Friday services are fulfilled - another important community service that the cafe and its PO local counter is endeavouring to support."

The Cafe and Post Office hours are 10am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.