Leeds post office branch forced to close despite long battle to save it

Residents from the Hawksworth Estate, Kirkstall, in happier times in 2012 when they won a reprieve for the branch.
Residents from the Hawksworth Estate, Kirkstall, in happier times in 2012 when they won a reprieve for the branch.
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A LENGTHY battle to save a post office branch that has served a Kirkstall community for more than 60 years has finally been lost.

Post Office chiefs have announced that the Hawksworth Wood branch on Broadway is to close and a new post office will open at Lea Farm Minimarket on Lea Farm Road.

Campaigners fighting plans to close the Hawksworth Wood branch claimed that Lea Farm Road was not suitable as it is too far from existing amenities and is not on a bus route.

The Hawksworth Wood branch was first closed in August 2010, with bosses saying at the time it would be a temporary measure. A part-time post office van was brought in to provide services.

Post Office chiefs reopened it in July 2012 after a lengthy campaign spearheaded by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves.

Miss Reeves met with Post Office representatives over the latest closure plan and launched a survey, which was completed by 170 residents.

Miss Reeves said: “I am very disappointed that the Post Office are closing the branch that has been there for over 60 years on Broadway.

“The overwhelming majority of the local people do not support the move of their post office branch and have worked hard to keep it in the same location.

“I will now work hard with the Post Office to ensure that the new post office is as accessible as possible for people including those who do not have access to transport, the disabled, and the elderly community on the estate and to ensure that people feel safe when visiting the post office branch.”

Post Office chiefs said a change was necessary because the existing postmaster at Hawksworth Wood wishes to leave. Post Office regional network manager Adrian Wales said: “Following local public consultation on our proposal to move Hawksworth Estate Post Office, we have been carefully considering all of the feedback we received alongside all other relevant factors.

“It is clear from the feedback how important a local post office is to our customers and we want to be in the best position to secure sustainable access to our services to our customers in the Hawksworth Estate.

“Having reviewed our original proposal we believe the best way to do this is to move the branch to Lea Farm Minimarket at 60a Lea Farm Road, Kirkstall, where it will operate as one of our new local style branches.”

Mr Wales added: “The new operator at Lea Farm Minimarket was successfully provisionally appointed following completion of our robust application process and, taking all factors into account, we remain satisfied with the appointment made and believe this new operator will provide an excellent service to the local community.

“The change also means that local residents will benefit from significantly longer opening hours, including lunchtimes, Saturday afternoon, Sunday opening and longer opening times throughout the week, so they can use our services seven days a week and at times that suit them better.”

“Posters will now be displayed in branch to let customers know about this decision. We’re currently making the final arrangements for the move and further posters will be provided in branch soon to let customers know the actual date the move will take place.”