Otley’s only Post Office is to close for a fortnight to allow a major revamp to take place.
Post Office Ltd has announced that the Nelson Street outlet is to be turned into one of its new, main-style branches as part of a three-year investment programme.
Otley’s will be one of about 6,000 outlets to be converted.
In a statement outlining its objectives, the company said: “Our aim is to create a more modern and convenient retail experience for customers that will include longer opening hours.”
The work will create a “modern, open-plan environment” and take 12 days to complete, with the branch closing at 5.30pm on Monday, February 17, and the new-look version opening at 1pm on Saturday, March 1.
The town’s three ward Councillors, Colin Campbell, Ryk Downes and Sandy Lay (all Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), have all welcomed the news – but are asking for an alternative, temporary service to run in town during the closure.
Coun Lay said: “Since the closure of Otley’s sub-post office network, the building on Nelson Street has become increasingly busy.
“Increasing numbers of customers has meant that the facilities are strained and any improvement is to be welcomed.”
Coun Downes added: “Our only concern is the length of time that the building will be closed, and the proposal that residents use alternative post offices in Guiseley or Menston.
“As there are now no sub-post offices in Otley, having to travel out of town will be very inconvenient to the able-bodied and impossible for the elderly, many of whom still like to pick up their pension in person.
“We have therefore written to the Post Office and asked if they can set up a temporary sub post office in the town centre to assist residents.”
Coun Campbell, meanwhile, said the refurbishment should ensure the branch has modern facilities that will “help maintain its position at the heart of the community”.
In their joint letter to the Post Office, the councillors wrote: “We would support the improvements you plan but would like to make the following comments.
“Since the closure of the Otley sub-post office network the Nelson Street office has been the only facility available for the 14,000 Otley residents (plus those from the surrounding rural areas).
“If the Post Office is closed, even for a short period, this will inconvenience local traders, residents and particularly pensioners. As you probably know, Otley has proportionally more pensioners than the national average and many of them like to pick up their pension in person.
“Because the alternative offices you suggested are some distance from the town and not easily accessible for those without access to a car, we are writing to ask if you could set up a temporary sub-post office to cover the period of refurbishment.”