Express & Star

Closure of Stafford bank sparks concern for councillors who fear for 'vulnerable' residents

Two councillors have raised concerns about the impact of a bank closure on residents unable to use online services.


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The Halifax branch in Greengate Street, Stafford, will shut on Monday, April 8.

The nearest alternative Halifax branches for Stafford customers are in Cannock – 10 miles away – and Longton, which is more than 14 miles away.

Customers have been advised that they can deposit cheques into their accounts at Post Office branches.

But county and borough councillor Gillian Pardesi said: “It does not appear that all Post Offices at which Halifax is publicising as places for some transactions have been scrutinised as to their suitability or accessibility for those who use wheelchairs, pushchairs etcetera.

"Not everyone has access to the internet or is comfortable with online banking – and it can be prone to technical issues.”

Councillor Pardesi and fellow borough councillor Julian Thorley, who represents the town centre’s Forebridge ward, have met with Geraldine Boylan, Public Affairs Manager at Midlands Lloyds Banking Group.

Councillors Gillian Pardesi And Julian Thorley outside the Stafford Halifax branch. Picture: Councillor Gillian Pardesi

Councillor Thorley said: “During our meeting with Ms Boylan we suggested a small area be designated in the Lloyds building in the Market Square – Lloyds is of the same banking group, after all.

“We were told the decision was a commercial one. This move obviously does not prioritise the needs and wishes of customers, it is all about cost cutting and maximising profit.

“We are continually told by banks and building societies that customers are increasingly choosing online banking – that is not the case for everyone.

"The system is being engineered so that you are left with no choice but to go digital, no matter how much distress this can cause some vulnerable members of our communities.”

Halifax’s closing branch review stated that customers who may need extra support had been identified and were being contacted to offer help if needed.

It added: “With more customers banking digitally, we have seen a fall in branch visits.

“Because of this, we have decided to close this branch. Before we made the decision to permanently close the Stafford branch we carried out a thorough review to understand what impact a branch closure would have on both customers and the wider community.

“Our regular customers told us that they were disappointed about the closure decision. We explained about the alternative banking options including the services available at the Post Office.

“We met MP Theo Clarke MP who expressed concerns about the impact closing the branch will have on vulnerable customers who do not want to bank online and cannot travel. We provided details about the services they can access through the Post Office and also what services our Community Banker will offer.

“After the branch closes we plan to have a Community Banker visit this area. We will share the details about where and when the Community Banker will be based once this is confirmed.

“We have partnered with the Digital Helpline who offer free one to one guidance over the phone to support customers to use the internet for banking. Customers with an identified need for this service have been provided with contact details enabling them to get free support.”