Reaction as HSBC branch in King Street, Stroud, to close

CONCERNS have been raised after it was announced that another bank is to close in Stroud town centre. 

It was announced on Wednesday that the HSBC in King Street will shut on May 16 next year as part of a nationwide round of 114 branch closures – more than a quarter of the bank’s network. 

The announcement was made on the same day that the Halifax closed in Kendrick Street and follows the closure of Barclays in January – leaving just Lloyds, Santander and Natwest still operating in the town centre. 

Leading figures have raised concerns about how this will affect customers who don’t use internet banking.

Mayor Stella Parkes said: “I am very concerned that HSBC closing will be very hard for local people who do not use internet banking. 

“I hope that the banks that are closing in Stroud will consider creating a shared banking hub in the town centre.” 

Chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade Tony Davey said the closures were ‘regrettable’ and would ’cause damage’. 

“Regrettably we find that our banks lack interest in retail banking because of the current economic imbalance and international borrowing rates,”he said. 

“If personal accounts are not making them enough money, and they won’t rebalance in other innovative ways, this will happen. 

“This is evidenced by making the experience of using a bank face-to-face less fruitful, by reducing hours and reducing services. 

“This then leads to predicable diving usage, job losses or displacement (the most regrettable outcome) coupled with a withdrawal from supporting the local community who had been loyal to them. 

“Of course, banking is also evolving and that plays an important part, and the focus of a bank revolves around profit and maximisation of those profits. 

“The loss of any service in our high streets causes damage, visible across the country but our high streets continue to adapt to address such issues.”

MP Siobhan Baillie said she will challenge banks to provide alternative face-to-face banking in the town.

“Bank closures are unsettling and we have had to deal with so many in recent years,” she said. 

“How people bank has very much changed now as so much can be done online.

“However, not everyone is capable or wants to bank online.”

The bank, which is also closing its Cirencester branch, said: “The decline in branch use has accelerated so much since the pandemic that some of the branches closing are now serving fewer than 250 customers a week.”

Jackie Uhi, HSBC managing director of UK distribution, said: “The decision to close a branch is never easy or taken lightly, especially if we are the last branch in an area. 

“We have invested heavily in our ‘post closure’ strategy, including providing free tablet devices to selected branch customers who do not already have a device to bank digitally, alongside one-to-one coaching to help them migrate to digital banking.”

A similar statement was published when the decision was made last summer to close the Halifax in Stroud. 

“Like many other high street businesses, we’ve seen people using our branches less frequently in recent years as more customers choose to do most of their everyday banking online,” read a statement from Halifax. 

“We’re responding to the way our customers use our branches.

“We’ll continue to invest in our branch network, but we have to make sure our branches are where customers need and use them most.

“As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to close this branch because customers are using it less often.

“In addition the majority of customers are also using alternative ways to bank. 

“You can still use any of our other branches or a post office for your everyday banking.”

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