RESIDENTS in Malmesbury have been hit by a “body blow” after the last bank in the town announced its closure.
Malmesbury will soon be left without a single high street bank after Lloyds Bank announced it will be closing its branch in the High Street on July 29.
Lloyds said they decided to close the Malmesbury branch as transactions had been declining over the past year.
In a closure review, they said that counters at the Malmesbury branch are 23 percent quieter than a year ago, with just 211 customers using the branch on a regular monthly basis.
The banking giant also said that customers in Malmesbury are already banking in other ways.
They say they 56 per cent of personal customers using the branch have also used other Lloyds branches, 79 percent of customers have also used other branches, Internet Banking or PhoneBank and 29 percent of customers have also used the Post Office.
Wiltshire Councillor for Malmesbury Gavin Grant described the news as ‘a bodyblow for the town’.
He said: “Given the support the banks have had from taxpayers in the financial crisis it’s a betrayal.
“Malmesbury needs a bank.
“For residents who don’t use internet banking it’s really important.
“Small charities and small businesses still collecting in cash need a physical bank presence, it’s not good enough.
“It wasn’t so long ago that we had three bank branches in Malmesbury.
“And it’s another iconic building in the centre of our town that is set to go.
“Filling these large building’s is a challenge, we don’t want empty buildings in our town centre and there is a risk it could become derelict.
“I will be urging Lloyds to reflect on this decision.”
Lloyds Banking Group said 31 Lloyds, 10 Halifax and 15 Bank of Scotland branches will be shut as fewer customer choose to bank in stores.
The move is expected to mean staff numbers will be cut by “under 80” as many employees are to be redeployed in other branches.
Deputy mayor of Malmesbury, Campbell Ritchie, said: “The announcement by Lloyds Bank that they are closing their Malmesbury branch will be a real disappointment to our community.
“It has many local customers, including Malmesbury retailers, community and charity groups and residents who have chosen to bank at Lloyds because of its high street presence.
“Sadly, it seems that Malmesbury will be joining many other towns across the country who are seeing their last bank branches closing.
“We will be discussing this closure announcement at the town council and I am sure we will be trying, at least, to achieve the best mitigation we can.
“A particular concern is that a large proportion of its personal customers rely on the face to face provision of services and will be most severely affected by this branch closure.
“This is another challenge to the vitality of our high street.
“It makes it even more important we build on the success of the recently launched Malmesbury Gift Card, the strengths of our retail and eating and drinking offerings, the imminent arrival of the JMW Turner painting in the Athelstan Museum, and other new initiatives being implemented in the months ahead by Malmesbury Town Team and Malmesbury Town Council.”
A Lloyds Banking Group spokeswoman said: “We are committed to having the largest branch network in the UK and, in addition to our branches, all our customers can also use the Post Office to access their banking locally, alongside our mobile branches which visit many rural communities.
“This is in response to changing customer behaviours and the reduced number of transactions being made in branches.”
The nearest alternative branch for customers in the Malmesbury area is in Wootton Bassett and Chippenham.
Lloyds Banking Group confirmed there would also be a new mobile branch service visiting the Malmesbury area.
The full timetable will be available at lloydsbank.com/mobilebranch shortly before the new service starts to operate.