MP seeks assurances over bank branches in east Suffolk towns amid closure fears

Lloyds Bank in Southwold. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Lloyds Bank in Southwold. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk MP is demanding that the last banks left standing in the towns in her constituency will be kept open.

Therese Coffey has been left “extremely disappointed” by the decision of Lloyds to close its branches in Halesworth and Southwold this year, which has raised fears that other branches in small market towns in east Suffolk could be under threat.

She has written to high street bank chiefs to seek reassurance that no further closures will be made – and wants Barclays Bank to commit to keeping their branches open in Aldeburgh, Halesworth and Southwold, and HSBC to retain Saxmundham, too.

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Coffey said: “The disappointing decision by Lloyds to close branches in Suffolk Coastal has led to heightened anxiety in other towns in my constituency.

“Following my petition several years ago Barclays gave me assurances that they had no intention of closing any of their branches in Suffolk Coastal. Despite this their Saxmundham branch closed last year so it is important we get some long term commitment.

“I have already heard back from HSBC, who assure me that after their closure of 62 branches nationwide last year, they do not plan any additional closures, so Saxmundham is safe.”

Therese added: “We are in a digital age but I know how much of a life-line local branches are for all sectors of the community, especially elderly residents and for local businesses. It is important to use the bank branches we have.”

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Kathryn Kitson, community banking director for Suffolk and Norfolk at Barclays, said: “We regularly review where to open new branches, invest in existing ones, change opening hours or close branches, depending on how our customers choose to bank with us. As customer behaviour evolves over time, we aren’t able to provide definitive commitments about any branch, however, we have no immediate plans to close Barclays’ branches in Aldeburgh, Halesworth and Southwold.

“As with many other sectors and along with our competitors, we are seeing unprecedented changes in the way people choose to do their banking, with many opting to carry out transactions online or on smartphones and tablets. Over time, it is likely that there will be fewer traditional branches, but we are clear that the network and our colleagues will remain an important part of our service.”

An HSBC spokesperson said: “In January 2017, HSBC announced the closure of 62 branches, all of these have now closed. This completed our branch restructuring programme and we have no current plans to close any additional branches.”

Lloyds said the decision to close Halesworth and Southwold branches this coming May had not been taken lightly and a full review of usage had been carried out.

The company said: “Following careful consideration, we believe that our decision to close Halesworth and Southwold branch is the correct one under the present circumstances, which does include our awareness of planned developments and possible population increases.”

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