THE Post Office has confirmed that it is closing the Lendal branch after 135 years - a decision described as 'deplorable' by a York MP.

Lendal Post Office will close on April 3, and a new counter and self service Post Office service will open within WHSmith in Coney Street the following day.

Some 3,094 residents had signed a petition calling for the branch to stay open.

Rachael Maskell MP for York Central said the new counters will be relegated to the 'back corner' of WHSmith.

She said: “Over the past two months we have seen the city come together to firmly reject this proposal and the Post Office has simply not listened... People will now rightly be very concerned about the future of this magnificent building and it’s historically significant interior which includes an important war memorial. There is a lot of concern that it will join the ranks of other boarded up shops a long Coney Street or become yet another bar in our city centre."

She said concerns about how post and high value goods will be transferred from the shop have been 'completely ignored' and said she was urgently meeting with the Minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ask her to take immediate action to halt the closure pending a full investigation into the impact this will have on the city centre.

Ms Maskell added: “Staff will be devastated to learn that the post office is closing and the city will be all the poorer for the loss of expertise that we will see if any of the current staff do not transfer over."

A Post Office spokesperson said the new Post Office service will be operated by WHSmith Ltd.

There will be five serving positions and four self-service kiosks, the spokesperson added.

Services will be available from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 3pm on Sundays.

Roger Gale, network and sales director, said that the change would help to ensure the branch is commercially viable into the future and therefore protect Post Office services on which customers in the area depend.

He said: "The Post Office is committed to keeping our services at the heart of communities which we know is hugely important to people. This change means we can continue to do that, into the future. We are making sure we take the right action to sustain services for years to come.”

Meanwhile, it has been announced that members of the Guildhall branch of the York Labour Party are in the process of trying to register the post office building on Lendal as an asset of community value.

Labour councillor Janet Looker said: “The loss of post office services from this site is hugely disappointing but unfortunately that decision is out of our hands.  Now Post Office Ltd has made the decision, we’re determined to seek the protection of the building for some sort of community benefit.

“Guildhall Labour Members are submitting an application to secure the building in the short term as an asset of community value. This will give time to consider how the building might be used in future, and whether or not there is an interest in using it for a particular purpose.

“This could include its possible purchase by the council, with a view to not only delivering that community benefit, but a return for taxpayers as investments are doing elsewhere in the city centre."

The application is expected to be submitted in the next 24 hours and will then be considered by council officers and the council’s Executive Leader if it meets the necessary criteria.