Councillors want legal protection for the Post Office building – and the city should consider buying it.
That’s the message from the Labour group after it was confirmed on Wednesday (13 February) that the Post Office was to move out of its purpose-built home on Lendal. It will be relocated within WH Smith.
Now Labour councillors are campaigning to keep the building as a community asset, after it becomes empty in April.
Leader of the group Janet Looker said:
The loss of post office services from this site is hugely disappointing but unfortunately that decision is out of our hands.
Now Post Office Ltd has made the decision, we’re determined to seek the protection of the building for some sort of community benefit.
Guildhall Labour Members are submitting an application to secure the building as an ‘asset of community value’. Cllr Looker added:
This will give time to consider how the building might be used in future, and whether or not there is an interest in using it for a particular purpose.
This could include its possible purchase by the council, with a view to not only delivering that community benefit, but a return for taxpayers as investments are doing elsewhere in the city centre
The application is expected to be submitted in the next 24 hours and will then be considered by council officers and the council’s Executive Leader if it meets the necessary criteria.
A Post Office spokeswoman told YorkMix: “We do own the building, and we’ll be deciding what to do with it in due course.”
A move for the future
The Post Office has defended it’s decision to move out of Lendal.
Network and sales director Roger Gale told David Dunning of Minster FM: “What we’re trying to do is find a way to maintain Post Office services long into the future, not just today.
“[Lendal] is an extremely costly building to maintain, and it is a far more cost-effective way to maintain services and to increase services by opening on Sundays by partnering with another retailer.”
That way they shared overheads and footfall with WH Smith.
Mr Gale added:
I absolutely understand that some people in York don’t like the move, partly because of the iconic building, and partly because of moving down into Coney Street.
But I’m sure after customers get used to the move and find the services are just as good – they will be able to exactly the same transactions as they do know and have longer opening hours.
He also defended the consultation, saying it was not about changing the way the branch is run “because that is a commercial decision for Post Office to make”.
Instead it was about whether they should take into consideration things like whether there was decent access to the branch in a propsed new location.