Towngate premises to close and services to re-open in revamped WH Smith store

Keighley News: Keighley Post Office Keighley Post Office

Campaigners have lost their battle to save Keighley’s main post office from closure.

The Towngate premises will shut and the facility be shifted to WH Smith next month, it has been revealed.

Opponents claimed the move would be a disaster for the town.

But this week it was confirmed that the new post office service is scheduled to open within the book and stationery store, in the Airedale Shopping Centre, on April 24.

Work will start this weekend at the WH Smith premises on preparing for the move.

And interest has already been shown in the existing Towngate post office building by prospective new tenants.

Steve Seymour, the shopping centre manager, told us: “A lot of people would have preferred to see the post office facility remain where it is, but we would rather have the service within WH Smith than not in the town centre at all.

“It is essential to have a post office in the core area and I’m pleased that we are keeping the provision.

“The WH Smith store will remain open as normal throughout the next few weeks, as work is carried out. Hoarding will be erected at the rear of the shop and there will be work done over several nights.”

Mr Seymour added that marketing of the current post office unit, which although outside the main precinct is part of the Airedale Shopping Centre, began earlier this year.

“Things are still at an early stage but we have had some interest,” he said. “Hopefully it will only be closed for a short period.”

Post Office Ltd’s proposals sparked anger from union bosses and some townspeople, who claimed the move would lead to an inferior service and that there would be insufficient room within the WH Smith store to house the new facility.

But at a customer forum event held in Central Hall, Keighley, in January, postal chiefs refuted the allegations and said the layout of the WH Smith outlet would be reconfigured to create space.

They added that the company had enjoyed an excellent relationship with WH Smith since 2006 and there were “fantastic” examples around the country of post offices operating successfully within stores.

The new facility will have seven counters – four open plan and three secure – and there will be a dedicated queuing area.

The public consultation ended early last month.

* Plans have been unveiled this week to move Cross Hills Post Office into the village’s Spar store.

Post Office Ltd said the relocation – from the current site in Prospect Street – would create seven-days-a-week access to services, and opening hours would more than double to 119 a week.

There would be three serving positions, including one screened.

A six-week public consultation period has now begun.

Adrian Wales, for Post Office Ltd, said: “We understand how important having a post office is to residents in Cross Hills and we are confident that this new modern service will meet the needs of the local community and secure services for the future.”

People can submit comments online at postofficeviews.co.uk – using branch code 249306 – by writing to Freepost YOUR COMMENTS at Post Office Ltd, e-mailing comments@postoffice.co.uk, phoning 08457 22 33 44 or by textphone to 08457 22 33 55.

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