AIREBOROUGH people are being given a "bitter Christmas present" with the planned closure of a building society branch in Yeadon.

Yorkshire Building Society has announced it is planning to close its Yeadon branch in March - prompting strong criticism from the town's three ward councillors.

The proposed closure is part of the building society's plans to "reshape" its national high street network. If it goes ahead ahead the closest alternative branches will be in Pudsey, Shipley or Leeds city centre.

This week Cllrs Colin Campbell, Ryk Downes and Sandy Lay stressed their "disappointment and concern" at the announcement.

"Following on from the closure of two bank branches this is a bitter Christmas present for Aireborough residents," Cllr Campbell said.

"Building Societies have always been at the heart of the community and to remove this office shows once again that profit is more important than service. A local building society branch is vital for the elderly and less mobile members of the community. By closing the branch Yorkshire Building Society has in effect prevented them from being able to talk face to face about their finances."

Cllr Downes said, "The suggested alternative branches Pudsey, Shipley and Leeds centre just show how little the Society knows or cares about the local situation,"

Cllr Lay added. "Yeadon residents cannot get a bus to either Pudsey or Shipley while taking the car into the centre of Leeds to draw money from your account is ridiculous. I can only assume that the Society wants residents to swap to the alternatives who still remain loyal to Yeadon High Street."

In a letter to local politicians last week the building society's chief executive Mike Regnier said: "We are today announcing proposals to reshape our national high street network to ensure we have branches and agencies across the country which reflect customer demand.

"This will involve opening approximately 50 new agencies across the country, while proposing up to 13 branch closures in places where we have a higher concentration of retail outlets, in some cases two in the same town."

He added: "As part of the changes, we are proposing to close our branch in Yeadon in March 2018.

Should the proposal go ahead, the closest alternative branches for our members would be in Pudsey, Shipley or Leeds city centre. We will communicate this proposed change to members who use the branch, offering additional support where necessary to vulnerable members.

"As a mutual organisation, it is important that we always act in the best long-term interests of our membership and evolve the business in line with our members’ changing needs. We therefore continually review all areas of the business to ensure we remain focused on providing what is important to our members, while utilising their money as effectively as possible. This means we must sometimes make adjustments to the way we operate.

"Face to face services have always and will continue to play an important part of our offering to customers, but we must continue to evolve if we are to remain relevant and sustainable."