Lloyds Bank will go ahead with the closure of its Southborough branch at the end of July, despite a week of public concern about the decision.
Many customers have already sent letters of protest about the loss of the town’s last bank branch, but a spokesman for Lloyds Bank told this blog on Friday that the decision still stands. And staff at the branch have been telling customers that such closure announcements are final after they have been made by the regional head office.
A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank told “Southborough News” on Friday:
“The Southborough branch will close on 28th July. We have made the difficult decision to close this branch because of the changing way customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in customers using it less often. Customers can continue to use any other branch in our network and the local Post Office is a short distance away, where customers can manage their day-to-day banking needs. We apologise for any inconvenience that these changes may cause, and have informed customers of the closest alternative branch which is in Tunbridge Wells.”
Lloyds Bank is under pressure to improve profitability, so the government can sell its remaining 10 per cent stake to the maximum benefit of the taxpayer. The bank reported underlying quarterly profits of £ 2.05 billion this week, with the share price 13 per cent down on the year.
During the financial crisis, the UK government encouraged Lloyds to take over the collapsing Halifax-Bank of Scotland group (HBOS), but then taxpayers had to take a 43 per cent stake in Lloyds to keep Lloyds afloat.
The Bank provided “Southborough News” with the following “Background Information”:
* The number of personal customers using the Southborough branch is going down each year by 24%.
* The branch has only 41 regular weekly personal and business customers.
* 72% of our personal customers in Southborough use other branches and other ways to bank such as online and telephone banking.
* 88% of our personal customers already use other branches, such as Tunbridge Wells branch.
* The Post Office is just 0.1 miles away and we will be proactively talking to customers about the service they offer. There are also good public transport links to the alternative branch.
* The nearest free to use ATM is just 0.03 miles away.
* Customers will have their accounts realigned to Tunbridge Wells which is under 2 miles away, and there will be no other impact to the way they manage their accounts.
The Lloyds Bank statement on Friday 29th April continued:
“In October 2014 we announced the Group’s three year strategy, which outlined a programme of planned branch closures to reflect the changing behaviour of our customers. The way customers interact with their bank has changed over recent years, with more customers choosing to do their banking online. This has seen a reduction in customers using branches.
“While the decision to close the branch is a difficult one, it is based on falling customer numbers. Between now and the closure date, we will engage with all of our customers, local businesses and the wider local community to make sure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking with us in the local area, and to answer any questions they might have”.
It is thought the Southborough bank staff will be offered alternative jobs in nearby branches.
Here are two earlier articles on the Southborough branch closure in other media: