Announced closure of the Co-operative Bank in Woodbridge met with disappointment from community leaders

Community leaders have pledged to keep Woodbridge Thoroughfare vibrant following the departure of th

Community leaders have pledged to keep Woodbridge Thoroughfare vibrant following the departure of the Co-op Bank

The announced closure of an ethical bank branch in a town in east Suffolk has been met with disappointment from community leaders.

The Co-operative said the closure of its Woodbridge branch, which takes effect on May 20, had “not been taken lightly” but was a necessary part of its modernisation plans.

Woodbridge mayor Geoff Holdcroft said it was “disappointing but not unexpected” given the group’s recent troubles. “We will be working with Choose Woodbridge to try to encourage other shops into the town and provide the right kind of mix for shoppers,” he added.

Diana Ball, a town and district councillor for Woodbridge who banks with the Co-op, said it was “very sad”.

“I feel Woodbridge is big enough to have several banks and the Co-op is one of the better banks, so I’m very disappointed that they are not able to keep it open,” she added.

Caroline Page, the town’s county councillor, and another of the branch’s customers, said it was a “dreadful shame”, particularly for older people who prefer to do their banking “face to face”.

Woodbridge’s deputy mayor Josh Sayles, who is also a district councillor, expressed further disappointment, though he stressed the council would be working to support the high street. “We are very much committed to keeping the whole shopping experience viable,” he added.

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Les Binns, who also represents Woodbridge on both councils, said it was a blow for the town, just as any closure was.

The closure comes as part of the Co-op’s nationwide plans to shut around a quarter of its UK branches, after facing financial difficulties.

Paul Denton, head of branch network at the bank, said the change was part of plans to turn the bank around by restructuring it into a “simpler, more efficient business” while investing in its “digital offering”. He added that the nearest alternative branch was in Ipswich and there were two post offices within a mile offering banking services.