Ludlow MP Philip Dunne in talks over bank closures

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne was due to meet banking bosses today over concerns of the impending closure of high street bank branches.

HSBC branch in Ludlow will close this year. Picture: Google Maps
HSBC branch in Ludlow will close this year. Picture: Google Maps

Mr Dunne said he will be “making the case for maintaining a physical presence to access banking services for customers across the Ludlow Constituency” to banking giant HSBC.

The company plans to close branches in both Ludlow and Knighton, just across the Welsh border.

Mr Dunne’s comments come as Powys County Council’s cabinet objected to the closures of Knighton’s branch and pledged to oppose any further closures. Kington, across the border in Herefordshire, no longer has any banks as its HSBC branch has now closed.

Mr Dunne said: “I recognise that technology is transforming the way many people access their bank account these days.

“Mobile and online banking has become the norm for many residents and businesses in using their bank’s services.

“But in areas like south Shropshire, with a higher proportion of elderly people and variable levels of connectivity, a physical bank branch remains an important service to the community.

“I commend those banks who are committed to maintaining their rural branch networks. I was in Church Stretton last week to visit TSB, which is taking a different approach to other high street banks, and expanding its branch locally.

“I am meeting with HSBC to discuss their plans to close their Ludlow branch. I understand banks make decisions to close branches based on commercial performance, but I will be making the case for maintaining a physical presence to access banking services for customers across the Ludlow constituency.”

He said the fact HSBC customers will be able to access some banking services at Ludow’s post office at One Stop on Tower Street “will be little comfort given the current threat to the branch”.

David Evans, Shropshire councillor for Craven Arms and Church Stretton, said the closures affected business and tourism for whole region.

Since 2012 HSBC has closed branches in Craven Arms and Church Stretton, but has assured it has no plans to close branch in Bishop’s Castle, where it is the last bank in town. He said: “South Shropshire is looking for business and depends upon tourism. It will have a big effect on market towns trying to encourage visitors and businesses in.

“Where will people go if they need money? The hole in the wall machines don’t always work.

“We noticed a definite fall in footfall on a Wednesday after we lost HSBC because people don’t come into town to do their banking.”

Councillor Peter Medlicott, who represents Knighton on Powys County Council, said banking could involve a day of travelling for those without online access.

But Francesca McDonagh, head of retail banking for the UK, said previously that use of high street branches was falling dramatically, with more than 90 percent of customer interactions now through their digital channels.

“We will have fewer but better branches, with more empowered front line colleagues using a greater range of technology to support all our customers’ needs,” she said.

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