MP condemns HSBC over branch closure

SUFFOLK Coastal MP Therese Coffey is backing residents in a campaign against moves by banking giant HSBC to close its branch in their town.

HSBC – which styles itself in television adverts as “the world’s local bank” – plans to close its branch in Aldeburgh on December 3.

Customers who regularly use the branch face having to travel instead to the HSBC branch in Saxmundham.

Dr Coffey has condemned HSBC for failing to consult its local customers before announcing the move and has written to the bank to set out her concerns, as well as backing the launch of a petition against the closure.

But HSBC insists that the number of customers using the branch has fallen below a sustainable level, and that it will help those affected by the closure to reorganiser their financial affairs.

“I am deeply concerned about this closure,” said Dr Coffey. “HSBC offers a key service for the residents, businesses and visitors of Aldeburgh.

“Many elderly residents cannot easily get to Saxmundham and the bank is also key for local business in this thriving community. For HSBC to do this without any consultation is shocking. I have asked the regional manager to come to a public meeting to explain his reasons and to hear from our community.”

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One of HSBC’s “Big Four” rivals, Barclays, also has a branch in Aldeburgh, as does the Ipswich Building Society.

However, Dr Coffey has encouraged local residents to start a petition against the HSBC closure, to which she plans to add her name shortly, and is encouraging all residents in Aldeburgh to do the same.

An HSBC spokesman said the group was investing more than �75million a year in updating and improving its branches, and had extended Saturday opening hours at 170 locations to meet demand.

However, he said: “We need to ensure that our branches are in the right locations for our customers and on occasions this means that we need to close some branches where customer footfall has fallen dramatically or there has been a shift in customer shopping patterns.

“Aldeburgh is a case in point. The branch is currently only open limited hours during the week and customer usage of the branch has fallen very significantly over the past few years and only around 18 people now visit the branch each hour. This is one of the lowest numbers in the country.

“Customers’ habits are changing; they are now increasingly using branches where they work, or they are using the 24 hour convenience of internet or telephone banking,” he added.

“We are writing to the small number of customers who use the branch to see if we can help them reorganise their finances ahead of the planned closure on December 3. There is access to 24 hour fee-free ATMs at Barclays and also at the local Co-op in Aldeburgh.”

No jobs would be lost as a result of the closure, with the two members of staff affected being transferred to the nearest HSBC branch, he added.

The petition against the closure of the Aldeburgh branch can be found online at . People will also be canvassed for signatures in the town.