Mayor calls for HSBC bank boycott
The mayor of Much Wenlock has called on residents to boycott one of the UK's biggest banks in protest at a decision to close its branch in the town.
HSBC announced last week it was closing its Much Wenlock branch on June 18. Now town mayor Councillor Tim Pinches has urged traders and residents to move their business to its competitors in response to the shock move.
"I cannot speak on behalf of the council, but I am sure my fellow councillors would back me," he said.
"I will advise people not to use HSBC and change to Barclays, which also has a branch in the town, as a protest."
He hit out at HSBC decision-makers, claiming a bank official allegedly told him the branch was closing because of a lack of trade.
"She said to me it was losing money and they had a duty to its shareholders," said the councillor.
"If it wasn't so tragic it would be funny. They have ridden roughshod over local opinion.
"It is easy to see why bankers have such a bad reputation.
"Much Wenlock is a thriving town and we will be under the world's spotlight because of its association with the Olympics when the Games come to London in 2012. But it appears HSBC has not considered this."
Councillor Pinches said he thought it was unlikely that the bank would reverse its decision.
"I told them they were closing a facility that was a vital part of a rural community, but this was brushed aside," he said.
Traders fear that businesses will not be able to pay-in cheques and residents will take their trade elsewhere if they are forced to travel to use the bank.
The nearest HSBC bank to Much Wenlock is in Bridgnorth, eight miles away.
"This is a real problem and one which is deeply worrying for the chamber of trade," he said.
"The decision to close the branch has come suddenly without any consultation. However, the bank officials said they did not need to consult anyone about the decision when I challenged them. I was dismayed."
The mayor said he would urge all account owners to move their business to other banks in the area.
"We will not make them change their mind but we can make it very difficult for them," he added.
"They are making millions of pounds every year but they cannot keep a vital service going."
A spokesman for HSBC said the decision to close the branch had not been taken lightly but the bank was under-used and losing money.
By Brett Gibbons
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