Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has criticised Boots’ ‘insensitive’ decision to close its Armley Town Street pharmacy in August.
Boots say the decision came after a store review – but in a letter to Boots UK president and managing director Sebastian James, Ms Reeves labelled the decision ‘hugely disappointing’ and asked him to reconsider the decision.
Her letter comes after Town Street’s Card Factory shop also closed, with stock and the sign being removed today in what is another blow to high street trade in the area.
In her letter Ms Reeves said:
“A number of constituents, stakeholders and community groups have contacted me to express concerns about the intended closure of the store, which is a vital resource for the community.
“It is particularly concerning that this particular decision has been taken in the midst of a global pandemic, when prompt access to medical attention and healthcare advice is especially vital.
“Local pharmacies are also struggling to meet the increased demand for their services during the Coronavirus pandemic, which have been exacerbated by the need to comply with social distancing measures.
“To reduce the number of pharmacies available to people, many of whom are suffering from ill health, appears insensitive to the current situation.”
Ms Reeves also criticised a lack of community consultation, and highlighted substance abuse charity Forward Leeds, which uses the pharmacy as a key place for its needle exchange.
She also said that both the Armley and city centre branches of Boots were struggling to meet customer demand and fulfil deliveries, and the decision to close would intensify demand on other local pharmacies.
Armley councillors Lou Cunningham, Jim McKenna and Alice Smart (all Lab) have previously labelled it a ‘huge loss to the community’.
Announcing the closure last month, a Boots spokesperson said:
“At Boots UK, we continually review our store locations to make sure they are where our customers need us most.
“It is never a decision we take lightly when looking to close a store. With this in mind, we can confirm that we are closing the Armley Town Street branch in Leeds towards the end of August, however our other store in Bramley centre will remain open and is around an eight-minute drive away.
“All of our affected colleagues have been informed and will be offered jobs within Boots stores.”
West Leeds Dispatch contacted Card Factory for a comment on closure rumours two weeks ago, but the company failed to respond.