YORKSHIRE Building Society is planning to close its Yeadon branch in March.

The company has announced the closure in a letter to local politicians.

In the letter the building society's chief executive Mike Regnier says: "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 adds: "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.That is why we are planning to expand our retail network into at least 50 new locations across the UK by looking for and working with agency partners where there is customer demand. This approach allows us to reach new locations in a more cost effective way.

"These proposals enable us to deliver a better overall experience for members by operating in a more cost-effective way, with the savings we make being reinvested in the business."

The announcement prompted immediate criticism from ward councillors for Otley and Yeadon.

Cllr Sandy Lay said: "Following the relatively recent closures of Nat West and Yorkshire Bank in Yeadon this news is just more evidence that the UK banking industry is in retreat from our local High Streets.

"The time has surely come for the industry and failing that government to come up with a long term solution to the disappearing services; before every bank, on every High Street, in every community is lost."

In a reply to the building society Cllr Colin Campbell said: "You will not be surprised to know that I am extremely disappointed by your proposed actions.

"Building Societies have always been an integral part of the local community and the ability to go into a branch and discuss with staff has been vital to many, particularly the elderly. All your customers in the Aireborough area will be disadvantaged by the closure but the elderly more so than most.

"You suggest three alternative offices but it is impractical for most residents to visit these branches. There are no bus services to Shipley or Pudsey so these can only be accessed by those with a car. A car journey into the centre of Leeds to make a deposit is so difficult as to be only undertaken if absolutely necessary.

"I can only assume you believe that your customers who like or need to visit the branch will close their accounts and move them to an alternative provider. I know we shall have to move the account I am involved with to a different company.

"The reduction in service is contrary to the Building Society principle and I would urge you to rethink. "