Plans by the Post Office to shut its main York branch and transfer services inside WH Smith have raised serious concerns.
Under the proposal the Crown Post Office on Lendal would close in May. Built in 1884 by Henry Tanner it is one of the last surviving late-Victorian purpose-built post offices still in use.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, leader of York Green party, opposed the move, saying:
This is a further blow to the city centre economy and a worsening of facilities for local residents and businesses.
The WH Smith branch doesn’t have space to provide equivalent services as are currently offered in the Lendal Crown Post Office branch.
He is one of a number of councillors to express disquiet over the plan.
‘We are very worried’
A consultation has been launched on the Post Office’s plan to shut its branch on Lendal and move into an area at the back of WH Smith.
The new location would have five counters and four self-service kiosks.
Leader of the Labour group Cllr Janet Looker said: “We have a lot of concerns.
“The Post Office is in a prime site for everybody who wants to use it. We are very worried for the staff and the loss of their expertise.”
She said she also has concerns about the future of the building.
Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said residents value the Post Office and added:
I wrote to the Post Office last month to express local worries over their proposals and in turn, the Post Office has highlighted to me that under the new operating model, services will be available for longer based in the WH Smith.
It is vital that services held at the Lendal branch are retained for the benefit of the many residents here in York who use that branch on a regular basis and I would strongly encourage anyone with concerns to respond to the Post Office’s consultation.
The Conservative group was also approached for a comment.
What the Post Office says
He said: “The vast majority of our 11,500 Post Offices, large and small, are successfully operated on a franchise basis with retail partners.
“We believe this is the best approach to keeping Post Offices in main shopping locations and at the heart of communities where they play an important role in local economies.
“We also take the utmost care supporting our staff and we are talking with them about the changes and their potential options which can include transfer of their employment to WH Smith in line with TUPE legislation.”
The Post Office consultation runs until December 28 and the proposals say the move would take place in May 2019.
To take part go to the website.
War memorial moved
The consultation document also says the war memorial in the Lendal branch will be relocated if the move goes ahead.
It says: “A war memorial is located in York Post Office dedicated to those of our colleagues who worked for the organisation when it was known as the General Post Office (GPO), which included what is now Royal Mail.
“We will be working with Royal Mail to identify the most appropriate place to relocate the memorial so that members of the public can continue to pay their respects to those of our colleagues who sacrificed their lives.
“We fully recognise the importance and significance of war memorials and, once agreed, the relocation will be handled with great care and sensitivity, including a rededication ceremony.”
Photograph: Julian Osley on geograph.org